NTSB Identification: NYC08LA223
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, June 21, 2008 in Rockland, ME
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/29/2009
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-140, registration: N8776N
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The non-instrument rated pilot was conducting a local visual flight rules (VFR) flight and had planned to stay in the traffic pattern at the non-towered airport in order to perform touch and go landings. The pilot delayed her flight, as she waited for the reported cloud layer at the airport to reach at least 1,000 feet above ground level. The pilot was seen performing a pre-flight of the airplane. The airplane was then observed taxiing for departure, departing runway 13, and entering a fog bank located immediately off the departure end of the runway. Within seconds, the airplane's engine noise was heard increasing in pitch, followed very quickly by a sound "of a thud." Eyewitness accounts of the fog bank indicated that horizontal visibility at the accident site was about 250 feet. The airplane was found inverted in a tidal flat. The pilot had flown 1 hour in the previous 12 months, which was done 2 days prior to the accident flight. Examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of any pre-impact mechanical malfunctions. Given the experience of the pilot and the sudden transition from visual meteorological conditions to instrument meteorological conditions, the pilot most likely misinterpreted the acceleration of the airplane as the nose of the airplane pitching up, and applied forward elevator control to counter.

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

The non-instrument rated pilot becoming spatially disorientated after inadvertently entering instrument flight conditions.

Full narrative available

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