NTSB Identification: CHI03FA086.
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Accident occurred Sunday, March 16, 2003 in Foley, MN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/30/2004
Aircraft: Cessna 172N, registration: N5315D
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 when it impacted into a harvested agricultural field. The non-instrument rated pilot had received a pre-flight weather briefing and was informed that visual flight rules (VFR) flight was not recommended. Once airborne, the pilot contacted flight service and was given updated weather information. The briefer informed the pilot of a recently released AIRMET (Airman's Meteorological Information) for instrument meteorological conditions and that VFR flight was not recommended. The AIRMET included both the destination airport and the accident site. The weather at the destination airport, 8 nautical miles and 235 degrees from the accident site listed 6 statute miles visibility and an overcast ceiling at 900 feet above ground level (AGL). A weather reporting station 13 nautical miles and 107 degrees from the accident site, recorded a visibility of 7 nautical miles and clear skies. A weather reporting station 23 nautical miles and 188 degrees from the accident site, recorded a visibility of 1 1/4 statute miles with mist and an overcast ceiling at 300 feet AGL. Witnesses reported that the weather at the accident site was cloudy and drizzly. Examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of a pre-impact defect.

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

The pilot's continued visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions which led to spatial disorientation and subsequent impact with the ground. Contributing factors was the pilot's lack of instrument rating, the pilot's disregard of the preflight briefing and his failure to follow in-flight weather advisories and a low ceiling.

Full narrative available

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