NTSB Identification: FTW01FA171.
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Accident occurred Saturday, July 28, 2001 in De Queen, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/20/2002
Aircraft: Cessna 205, registration: N8324Z
Injuries: 4 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 flight departed and was in cruise at 7,200 feet "above the cloud tops," receiving visual flight rules (VFR) flight following, when the pilot stated that he observed "holes in the cloud layer" and, subsequently, commenced a descent. Radar data revealed that the airplane was in a stable descent for 5 minutes. During the ensuing 7 final minutes of the flight, the airplane made multiple "S" patterns and its altitude varied between 3,400 feet and 2,600 feet. Witnesses observed the airplane fly in and out of the clouds and, subsequently, enter a spiraling descent prior to impacting the ground. The pilot received a weather briefing prior to the accident flight, during which the briefer advised the pilot of forecast conditions including, scattered clouds between three and five thousand feet, occasionally scattered to broken clouds between eight and ten thousand feet, a 30% chance of thunderstorms and rain showers, and possible lingering pockets of instrument flight rules (IFR) weather conditions. The closest weather observation facility (15 miles northwest of the accident site) reported broken cloud layers at 2,000 feet, 2,800 feet, and 3,500 feet, and a visibility of 10 miles near the time of the accident. The pilot held a private pilot certificate and was not instrument rated or pursuing an instrument rating at the time of the accident. Examination of the airplane and engine did not reveal any anomalies that would have prevented normal operation of the aircraft.

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

the pilot's VFR flight into IMC, which resulted in spatial disorientation and a loss of aircraft control. A contributing factor to the accident was the pilot's lack of total instrument flight time.

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