NTSB Identification: ATL94FA082.
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Friday, April 15, 1994 in OPELIKA, AL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/07/1995
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-181, registration: N39770
Injuries: 2 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 NON-INSTRUMENT RATED PILOT WAS ON A FLIGHT FROM PLANT CITY, FL, TO CLARKSVILLE, TN. NO FLIGHT PLAN HAD BEEN FILED. LOCAL WITNESSES STATED THERE WERE BLACK CLOUDS IN THE ACCIDENT AREA; THEY ESTIMATED THE CEILING WAS ABOUT 800'. THE WIND WAS FROM THE NORTHWEST & GUSTY. THE AIRCRAFT WAS SEEN TO EXIT THE BASE OF THE CLOUDS IN A NOSE DOWN SPIRAL. AN IN-FLIGHT BREAKUP OF THE AIRCRAFT OCCURRED; WRECKAGE WAS FOUND OVER A 1500' AREA. THE RIGHT WING, BOTH STABILATORS & THE VERTICAL STABILIZER WERE FOUND AT A REMOTE DISTANCE FROM THE MAIN WRECKAGE. UPWARD DEFORMATION WAS FOUND, WHERE THE RIGHT WING & STABILATORS HAD SEPARATED. RECORDS SHOWED THAT ON 12/30/93, MAINTENANCE PERSONNEL HAD REPLACED BOTH REAR FUSELAGE-TO-WING ATTACH POINT BRACKETS. THE REAR ATTACH POINT BRACKETS WERE FOUND IN PLACE FOR BOTH WINGS (ON BOTH SIDES OF THE FUSELAGE), BUT NEITHER THE RIGHT NOR THE LEFT WING REAR ATTACH BOLT WAS FOUND. NO SIGN OF STRETCHING OR STRESS WAS FOUND AT THE BOLT HOLES IN THE BRACKETS. THE PILOT HAD ACCUMULATED 18 HOURS OF FLIGHT TIME IN PREPARATION FOR AN INSTRUMENT RATING & HAD PASSED THE WRITTEN TEST, BUT HE HAD NOT TAKEN A PRACTICAL TEST FOR THE RATING.

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

LOSS OF AIRCRAFT CONTROL FOR AN UNKNOWN REASON. FACTORS RELATED TO THE ACCIDENT WERE: THE WEATHER CONDITIONS (CLOUDS WITH LOW CEILING), CONTINUED VFR FLIGHT BY THE PILOT INTO INSTRUMENT METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS (IMC), THE PILOT'S LACK OF INSTRUMENT EXPERIENCE, AND FAILURE OF MAINTENANCE PERSONNEL TO INSTALL THE REAR WING-TO-FUSELAGE ATTACH BOLTS.

Full narrative available

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