NTSB Identification: DEN99FA064.
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Accident occurred Saturday, March 27, 1999 in PAGOSA SPRINGS, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/17/1999
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-300, registration: N56306
Injuries: 3 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.

Before departing on the accident flight, the non-instrument rated pilot received two weather briefings, and was advised both times that VFR flight was not recommended. AIRMETs were forecasted for IFR conditions, mountain obscurement, turbulence, and icing conditions along the route of flight. Density altitude was calculated to be 13,248 feet. The aircraft became the subject of an ALNOT when it failed to arrive at its destination later that day. It was located on the morning of April 7 in a snow chute area along a 35 degree inclining slope on the east side of Chalk Peak in the San Juan Mountains east of Durango. Immediate travel to the accident site was delayed due to avalanche conditions and high snow levels. According to surface analysis data, the rising terrain at the north end of the Chalk Mountains was obscured by clouds, with an area of low pressure over Colorado and a weak cold front extended from central Nevada and Utah to along the Wyoming-Colorado border. Examination of the wreckage did not disclose any evidence of mechanical malfunction.

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

The pilot's continued VFR flight into IMC conditions. Related factors were flight into known adverse weather, the adverse weather, mountain obscuration, snow, icing, and high density altitude.

Full narrative available

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