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N6780F accident description

North Dakota map... North Dakota list
Crash location 48.520000°N, 99.120000°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Rock Lake, ND
48.850007°N, 99.200413°W
23.1 miles away
Tail number N6780F
Accident date 30 Nov 2013
Aircraft type Piper Pa 28-181
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On November 30, 2013, about 1840 central standard time, a Piper PA-28-181, N6780F, impacted terrain near Rock Lake, North Dakota. The non-instrument rated private pilot and two passengers were seriously injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulation Part 91 personal flight. Night instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed for the cross country flight which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from Falls International Airport (INL), International Falls, Minnesota, at 1635, and was destined for Bottineau Municipal Airport (D09), Bottineau, North Dakota.

The pilot obtained a computerized weather briefing at 0914 on the morning of the accident, but did not obtain any additional weather information before he departed Minnesota. At the time he took off, the weather was marginal visual meteorological conditions and IMC conditions were forecasted along the route of flight. The conditions were also conducive to icing. The pilot said that as he approached Rolla, North Dakota (about 2 hours into the flight), he entered IMC conditions and the "ground just disappeared." It was dark, so he used a flashlight to look out on to the wing where he saw "frost" building up on the gas cap. The pilot said "things got bad" and he was unable to maintain altitude. The pilot added power, maintained a safe airspeed (between 76-80 knots), and kept the wings level as the airplane continued to descend. He said he never saw the trees or ground before the impact. The airplane came to rest on its left side in an ice-covered field. Both wings, all three landing gear, and the right horizontal stabilizer separated from the airplane. The distance from the point of initial impact to where the main fuselage came to rest was about 350 feet.

Data from the pilot's handheld Garmin 195 GPS revealed that he departed INL at 1635. The airplane flew west on a true heading of 270 degrees before the data ended at 1840 about 19 miles east of Rolla Municipal Airport (06D), Rolla, North Dakota, at a ground speed of 136 miles per hour.

At 1835 weather at Rolla Municipal Airport was reported as wind from 360 degrees at 10 knots, visibility 1/4-mile, freezing fog, overcast ceiling 200 feet, temperature -10 degrees C, dewpoint -10 degrees C, and a barometric pressure setting of 30.14 inches of mercury.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land. His last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third class medical was issued on July 1, 2013. The pilot reported a total of 250 flight hours, all of which were in the accident airplane.

NTSB Probable Cause

The noninstrument-rated pilot’s failure to obtain weather briefings immediately before and during the flight and his continued flight into icing conditions, which resulted in the airplane’s loss of performance and the subsequent controlled descent into trees and terrain.

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