NTSB Identification: CHI01FA024.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, October 25, 2000 in SPARTA, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/21/2001
Aircraft: Piper PA28-140, registration: N98094
Injuries: 1 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 airplane struck trees and terrain about 300 feet left of the extended runway centerline and about 1,000 feet from the departure and of the runway during an instrument takeoff. The weather at an airport 16 miles away was recorded as 1/4 statute miles visibility with fog and a vertical visibility of 100 feet. A witness reported weather at the accident airport as less than 1/8 mile visibility about 40 minutes after the accident. The pilot had accumulated a total of about 53 hours of instrument time with 9 of those hours in actual instrument conditions. The pilot had received a weather briefing prior to the accident, and had filed an IFR flight plan but did not obtain a departure clearance for the flight. A postaccident examination of the airframe, engine, and instruments revealed no anomalies that could be associated with a preexisting condition.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain proper runway alignment on departure and his failure to maintain clearance from the trees. The pilot's attempted flight into known adverse weather, his lack of instrument experience, the fog, and the trees were contributing factors.

Full narrative available

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