NTSB Identification: CHI01FA234.
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Accident occurred Sunday, July 22, 2001 in Benton, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/18/2003
Aircraft: Cessna 177, registration: N235LA
Injuries: 3 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 was destroyed on impact with objects and terrain during initial climb. A post impact on-ground fire occurred. A person representing N235LA called flight service for a weather update between Benton, Illinois (H96), and Terre Haute, Indiana. The person stated he was in H96 and during the brief said, "Yeah, you know it looks much better standing on the ground than flying around in it." the briefer said, "okay, well, that could make a difference because if you're in benton, there's nothing between you and terre haute however if you're a hundred miles, if you're in one hotel two which is uhm, uh, where i have a kind of suspicion you may be ... yeah, and there is a little bit of a thunderstorm west of you about twenty miles, do you see buildups to the west? ... yeah, i have a suspicion you're actually at effingham ... uh, those thunderstorms to the west of you is the only thing even vaguely close to your route of flight." A witness observed the airplane taking off to the north from H96. The witness demonstrated the angle the airplane was climbing at. That angle was about 45 degrees. She stated that she heard what she thought was thunder. She saw smoke and called 911. Two other witnesses stated they heard two loud claps of thunder and saw lightning strike in the vicinity of the airport. They reported that after the second clap of thunder, they saw smoke coming from the boat factory. They said that the whole northern sky was black and they could hear thunder. They stated that they did not see the airplane strike the ground. Rain began falling after the accident occured. An on-scene investigation was conducted and no pre-impact anomalies were found. Subsequent to the accident, the weather briefer was decertified, given additional training, and had been reinstated.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed, resulting in a stall.

Full narrative available

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