NTSB Identification: CHI03FA080.
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Accident occurred Sunday, March 09, 2003 in Tower, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/28/2005
Aircraft: Mooney M20J, registration: N201ZM
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.

The aircraft departed controlled flight during cruise flight and impacted terrain. The flight was operating at night in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). While en route the pilot reported that the airplane was "in the soup" and he wanted to return to the departure airport. The controller cleared the pilot to climb to 7,000 feet msl and fly direct to the departure airport. The pilot confirmed the clearance and there were no additional radio transmissions received from the accident airplane. The aircraft impacted wooded terrain in a near vertical attitude. No pre-impact anomalies were found with the airframe, powerplant, propeller, or accessories.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control during cruise flight. A factor to the accident was the clouds and night conditions.

Full narrative available

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