NTSB Identification: CEN10LA055
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, November 13, 2009 in Naytahwaush, MN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/20/2010
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-180, registration: N7736N
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 received an outlook weather briefing about 6 hours before the accident flight. The briefer informed the pilot that instrument flight conditions existed and were expected to continue with improvement expected the following day. There were no records of additional weather briefings before the accident flight. Weather and global positioning system data showed that the airplane flew into an area of instrument weather conditions about 210 nautical miles into the 290 nautical mile night cross-country flight. The GPS data showed that in the last minute of the flight the airplane turned left from a heading of about 340 degrees to 300 degrees, followed by a right turn to a heading of 015 degrees which corresponded to the last recorded position. The airplane's average groundspeed during the last 20 seconds of the recorded data was about 120 knots. The recorded cloud base heights at airports near the accident site were as low as 400 feet overcast east of the accident site with higher cloud bases to the west of the accident site. It is likely that the sustained turn sequences while in night instrument meteorological conditions resulted in spatial disorientation. The airplane impacted trees and terrain, and a post-impact fire ensued. No pre-impact anomalies were found with respect to the airplane or its systems.

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

The non-instrument rated pilot's decision to continue the flight into known instrument meteorological conditions resulting in spatial disorientation and impact with terrain.

Full narrative available

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