NTSB Identification: CHI00FA123.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, April 26, 2000 in WATERTOWN, SD
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/02/2001
Aircraft: Cessna 177RG, registration: N1978Q
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 airplane impacted the water in about a 60 degree nose down attitude. The flight occurred during marginal VFR weather at night. The pilot had made an unscheduled landing and obtained a weather brief and filed an IFR flight plan. VFR flight was not recommended. About 30 minutes prior to the accident, ATC instructed the pilot to descend at pilot's discretion to 4,000 feet and report the airport in sight for a visual approach. The pilot acknowledged the instructions and descended to 4,000 feet. The pilot made no further transmissions. Radar contact was lost about 11 nautical miles south of the airport at 3,800 feet msl. The pilot had a total of about 12 hours of actual instrument time and a total of about 50 hours of night time. At 2153, the weather was: Winds 200 at 8 knots, 10 miles visibility, light rain showers, few clouds at 1,000 feet, broken at 1,800 feet, overcast at 6,000 feet, temperature 52 degrees F, dew point 50 degrees F, altimeter 29.95. The wreckage path covered a distance of approximately 310 feet, oriented to the north, and in two to three feet of water. The inspection of the airplane revealed no pre-existing anomalies.

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

the pilot failed to maintain aircraft control due to spatial disorientation. Factors relating to the accident were the dark night, clouds, and rain.

Full narrative available

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