NTSB Identification: CHI08CA073.
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Accident occurred Sunday, February 03, 2008 in Stockbridge, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/2008
Aircraft: Squier Pauper II, registration: N70727
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot of the amateur-built airplane reported that he had attended a chili fly-in and was departing at the time of the accident. An area of a frozen lake approximately 1,800 feet long had been plowed for use as a runway during the fly-in. The pilot stated that he had taken off and the airplane was about 25 to 30 feet above the terrain, when he initiated a turn and subsequently impacted the frozen lake surface. The pilot noted that he had difficulty identifying a clear horizon due to snow covered terrain and the overcast cloud conditions. He added that depth perception is very difficult under those circumstances. The pilot stated that the airplane was mechanically sound and he did not experience any problems with it. He recalled weather conditions as approximately 1,500 feet overcast, with 7 miles visibility. Winds were light and variable at the time.

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

The pilot's spatial disorientation while maneuvering after takeoff and his subsequent failure to maintain clearance from the terrain. Contributing factors were the snow-covered lake and overcast clouds, which resulted in the pilot's spatial disorientation due to the indefinite horizon. An additional factor was the airplane's low altitude at the time of the occurrence.

Full narrative available

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