On October 14, 1997, at 0900 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172P, N62264, was substantially damaged when it collided with trees during a descent near Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The certificated, non-instrument rated, private pilot and passenger were not injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that originated at the Danbury Airport (DXR), Danbury, Connecticut, destined for Montpelier, Vermont. No flight plan had been filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In a written statement the pilot said he was flying in partial Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions when he encountered Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) conditions which completely obscured his vision. The pilot further stated:

"...When I did not fly out of the fog I decided to land and wait out the weather....While descending below clouds to make VFR approach, I hit the very top of a tree that dented my right wing..."

The airplane remained in flight, and the pilot declared an emergency. With help from Albany Approach Control, the pilot was able to continue to Albany, New York, where he landed. The airplane received damage to the right wing, fuselage, landing gear, and cowling.

In an interview with a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector the pilot said he encountered the IFR conditions about 30 miles after departing DXR, and continued the flight using a hand held global positioning system (GPS) receiver.

The pilot reported he did not receive a weather briefing, and obtained weather information for the flight by viewing the "weather channel," and listening to a radio broadcast from the National Weather Service.

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