On September 2, 2000, at 1819 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172B, N8019X, was substantially damaged when it collided with a tree during an aborted landing at a private grass strip in Halfmoon, New York. The certificated private pilot/owner received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed for the personal flight that originated at the Sky Ranch Airport, Edinburg, New York, approximately 1800. No flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The pilot reported to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector that he departed Sky Ranch Airport without receiving a weather briefing. He said that he encountered thunderstorms and heavy rain while en route to his home airport. According to the FAA inspector's record of interview with the pilot:

"[The pilot] circled the field noting the wind direction. On base and final he encountered heavy rain but little turbulence. Just prior to touchdown, a gust of wind caused the aircraft to climb [approximately] 50 feet. He immediately descended only to be lifted again by another gust. [The pilot] then decided to go around but faced a set of phone/power wires perpendicular to his course at the end of the runway. He elected to go under the wires. [The airplane's] right wing impacted a tree while under the wires. The aircraft spun 180 degrees to the right and came to rest upright facing the opposite direction."

The FAA inspector interviewed a witness at the scene. According to the inspector's record of interview:

"A thunderstorm had just arrived at the location with heavy rain. The Cessna bounced twice while attempting to land. [The airplane] then hit a tree under the wires at the end of the airstrip and came to rest in a marshy area... facing the opposite direction."

In a telephone interview, the pilot repeated his account of the events surrounding the accident. When asked if he noted any deficiencies with his airplane, he responded:

"No. I can't blame the airplane. It was me."

The pilot held a private pilot's certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and single engine sea. The pilot did not possess an instrument rating. The pilot was issued a third class medical certificate on March 29, 2000.

The pilot reported 1,350 hours of total flight experience, 30 hours of which were in the 90 days prior to the accident. The pilot reported 1,006 hours of experience in the Cessna 172.

The pilot's airstrip was 2,100 feet long and 40 feet wide.

During a telephone interview, the FAA inspector said he was shopping about 1/2 mile from the accident site when the thunderstorms began. He also stated:

"VMC prevailed for the local area, but IMC (instrument meteorological conditions) conditions existed due to the thunderstorms at the time of the accident at the site."

A special weather observation taken at the Albany International Airport, Albany, New York, 10 miles south of the accident site, reported winds from 360 degrees at 12 knots, with peak winds from 330 degrees at 26 knots. There were scattered clouds at 100 feet with a broken ceiling at 2,600 feet. Visibility was 1/2 mile in fog. The temperature was 68 degrees and the dewpoint was 68 degrees.

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