NTSB Identification: FTW03FA029.
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Accident occurred Sunday, November 03, 2002 in Las Vegas, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/30/2003
Aircraft: Cirrus Design Corp. SR20, registration: N566T
Injuries: 1 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 cross-country flight, the non-instrument rated private pilot encountered heavy fog and poor visibility, and the airplane was destroyed after impacting the terrain in a wildlife refuge. Wildlife refuge personnel stated the weather was clear on the morning of the accident. However, later that morning, the weather deteriorated, and the wildlife refuge personnel stated, "the fog was very heavy and visibility was very poor." While driving throught the wildlife refuge, an employee discovered a portion of the airplane wreckage on the side of the road. An AIRMET, issued and valid for the area, reported the following: "occasional ceiling below 1,000 feet, visibility below 3 miles in mist, fog...Mountains occasionally obscured clouds, mist, fog..." On the day of the accident, the pilot did not file a flight plan or receive a formal weather briefing from a FAA flight service station. The wreckage distribution path measured approximately 1,200 feet in length on a measured magnetic heading of 280 degrees. The initial impact ground scar was consistent with the right wing and all three landing gear, and white paint transfer was found on the dirt in the ground scar. During examination of the airplane, no anomalies were found with the engine or airframe that would have precluded normal flight operations. The airplane's parachute system had not been activated by the pilot.

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

The pilot's inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions and failure to maintain clearance with the terrain. A contributing factor was the pilot's failure to obtain an updated preflight weather briefing.

Full narrative available

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