NTSB Identification: SEA02FA005.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, October 16, 2001 in Sandy, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/18/2002
Aircraft: Piper PA-18, registration: N7502K
Injuries: 2 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.

During a visual flight rules (VFR) cross country flight, the student pilot encountered, and intentionally entered, instrument meteorological conditions. Although his passenger requested that he turn around, the pilot elected to attempt to reach his intended destination. Eventually the flight encountered a squall line with its associated rain, clouds, mist, and high winds. When he thought he was in the vicinity of the destination airport, the pilot, who was navigating primarily with a hand-held global positioning system (GPS), descended to just under the clouds. While maneuvering under very low ceiling in strong winds and heavy rain, he spotted a clearing in the forested terrain, and decided to land there. While he was on short final to the clearing, the pilot inadvertently allowed the aircraft to collide with a tree, after which it traveled another 285 feet before impacting the ground. The student pilot had not received the required solo cross-country CFI pre-flight endorsement, and there was no record of him acquiring a weather briefing prior to the initiation of the flight or during any intermediate stop.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from the trees while attempting to land in a field after entering an area of instrument meteorological conditions. Factors include low ceilings, rain, fog, strong winds, mountainous/hilly terrain, the pilot's intentional flight into an area of instrument meteorological conditions, and his failure to check forecast weather conditions prior to the flight.

Full narrative available

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