NTSB Identification: CHI99FA042.
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Accident occurred Sunday, November 29, 1998 in COLEMAN, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/16/2001
Aircraft: Cessna 172F, registration: N72RE
Injuries: 2 Fatal,1 Serious.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot-rated passenger said the pilot (her husband) flew over Lake Michigan at 6,500 feet msl to the Coleman, Wisconsin, area. Over Wisconsin they descended through three different cloud layers. She recalled passing 2,500 feet msl when they entered the first cloud layer, and that they flew between cloud layers. The last time she recalled seeing the altimeter, it indicated that the airplane was descending through 1,000 feet msl. 'We were doing a 4 mile circle to get down. We could see land and trees. Then we couldn't see anything. It was pure white. Then I was looking at this big birch tree.' Witnesses on the ground heard the airplane make two circular passes over their locations. One witness said that following the second pass he heard a loud revving of the engine followed one to two seconds later by the sound of wood cracking. The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single- engine land rating. The pilot-rated passenger also holds a private-pilot certificate with single-engine land rating. At 1622 cst, the Flight Service Station at Green Bay, Wisconsin, reported ceilings of 800 feet agl broken, 1,100 feet agl overcast, 3 miles visibility, light rain and mist. Witnesses on the ground, who were within 1/2 mile of the accident site at the time the accident occurred, described the weather as consisting of thick fog and mist with the visibility less than 1/2 mile. Examination of the wreckage revealed no anomalies.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

pilot's failure to maintain clearance from the trees and his intentional flight into IMC conditions. Factors contributing to this accident were the pilot's lack of instrument certification, his becoming lost in the poor weather, his inadequate preparation for flight by failing to obtain adequate weather information, his improper decision to attempt a visual approach in instrument conditions, and the trees.

Full narrative available

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