NTSB Identification: SEA03FA028.
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Accident occurred Saturday, January 18, 2003 in Eastsound, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/30/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-181, registration: N7282C
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious,1 Minor,1 Uninjured.

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.

At the time of departure for the 30 minute night flight to an island destination, the pilot set his altimeter to field elevation instead of to the broadcast barometric pressure from the nearby Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS). During the climbout, the pilot contact Air Traffic Control, which gave him an altimeter barometric pressure setting and advised him of radar contact passing 2,500 feet. At that point the pilot set his altimeter to an indicated altitude of 2,500 feet instead of at the correct barometric pressure setting. Upon arriving in the area of the destination airport, the pilot found it covered by a low-level fog layer. Without acquiring an updated altimeter setting from the ASOS on the neighboring island, or from the Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS) on the nearby mainland, he descended over the water in order to try to find a way to get to the airport underneath the fog. Just after leveling off at what his altimeter indicated was 500 feet, the aircraft impacted the water. It was ultimately determined that at no time during the flight did the pilot set the aircraft's altimeter in reference to an issued barometric pressure.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from the water and his failure to reset the altimeter to the local barometric pressure. Contributing factors were fog and night conditions.

Full narrative available

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