NTSB Identification: ERA10FA503
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, September 26, 2010 in Sweetwater, TN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/11/2011
Aircraft: CESSNA 150F, registration: N7915F
Injuries: 1 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 private pilot did not possess an instrument rating and had not logged any actual instrument experience. During the 2 days prior to the accident flight, the pilot had completed two cross-country flights uneventfully and he was returning home on the accident flight. The pilot did not contact the flight service station for a weather briefing. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the departure airport; however, instrument meteorological conditions were present along the route of flight and near the destination airport. About 1 hour into the cross-country flight, the airplane impacted hilly terrain about 1,300 feet mean sea level (msl). Radar data indicated that 1 minute prior to the accident, the airplane began a right turn, followed by a descending left turn, with the last recorded target at 1,600 feet msl about 1/4 mile from the accident site. One witness stated that it was foggy in the area at the time of the accident. The recorded weather at a nearby airport, located at 1,031 feet msl, included an overcast ceiling at 600 feet. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions. If neither horizon or surface references exist, the attitude of an airplane must be determined by artificial means from the flight instruments. However, during periods of low visibility, the supporting senses sometimes conflict with what is seen, and when this happens, a pilot is particularly vulnerable to spatial disorientation.

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

The pilot's inadequate preflight weather planning and improper decision to continue a visual flight rules flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in spatial disorientation and a loss of control.

Full narrative available

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