NTSB Identification: NYC01LA132.
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Accident occurred Monday, January 15, 2001 in Falmouth, MA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/01/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-22-108, registration: N5391Z
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

According to the pilot's wife, the pilot woke up early on the day of the accident, and flew to Lawrence, Massachusetts, to look at an airplane he was considering purchasing. She talked with the pilot about 1000. The pilot stated he had landed at Norwood, Massachusetts, due to snow and the poor weather conditions and that he had hoped to complete the flight before the weather moved into the area. At that time, the pilot stated he had called for a rental car and was waiting for it to arrive, so he could drive home. She next talked to the pilot about 1430, and was informed that he was still waiting for a rental car to arrive. She stated that the pilot was "very frustrated;" and they talked about him possibly renting a room at a local hotel. The pilot stated he would call her when the rental car arrived. At approximately 1612, the pilot requested a "special visual flight rules" (SVFR) clearance to depart the airport to the southwest. The controller noted that the ceiling was 400 feet overcast, and observed, " what appeared to be up to 2 inches of slush and snow on the airplane's wings and control surfaces." The controller denied the SVFR clearance and advised the pilot of the low ceilings and snow/slush contamination he observed on the airplane. However, the pilot departed, without a clearance and turned southwest. There were no further known communications with the airplane. Several residents reported seeing and/or hearing a low-flying airplane to local authorities. The last visual sighting, and radar contact with the airplane occurred between 1930 and 2000. The body of the pilot was located in Buzzards Bay, on May 27, 2001, and as of May 8, 2002, the airplane had not been located. The pilot was instrument rated and reported 15,000 hours of total flight experience on his most recent FAA second class medical certificate. The following weather was reported at an airport in Falmouth, Massachusetts, at 1855, a visibility of 1 1/2 miles in light rain and mist, and ceilings at 300 feet broken and 500 feet overcast; at 1955, a visibility of 1 1/2 miles in light rain and mist, and a ceiling of 800 feet overcast; at 2055, a visibility of 1 1/2 miles in light rain and mist, and a ceiling of 300 feet overcast.

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

The pilot's improper decision to takeoff and attempt VFR flight in IMC conditions.

Full narrative available

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