NTSB Identification: BFO94FA066.
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Accident occurred Saturday, April 16, 1994 in SALEM, OH
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/01/1995
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32R-300, registration: N8685C
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.

THE PILOT DEPARTED INTO MARGINAL VFR WEATHER CONDITIONS LATE AT NIGHT WITHOUT RECEIVING A WEATHER BRIEFING. HE WAS NOT INSTRUMENT RATED. BEFORE DEPARTURE, A WITNESS NOTED THE PILOT LOOKED 'A LITTLE TIRED' AND THAT THERE WAS NO INDICATION OF AN AIRPLANE PROBLEM. RECORDED RADAR DATA, METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS, AND WITNESS STATEMENTS INDICATED THE AIRPLANE ENTERED AN AREA OF CLOUDS, RAIN, AND MODERATE TURBULENCE, ALL OF WHICH WERE FORECAST. RADAR DATA SHOWED THE PLANE HAD ENTERED A RAPID DESCENDING TURN FROM ABOUT 5700' MSL, THEN RADIO AND RADAR CONTACT WERE LOST. AN IN-FLIGHT BREAKUP OF THE AIRPLANE OCCURRED, AND WRECKAGE WAS FOUND OVER A 3/4 MILE AREA. AN EXAM OF THE FRACTURES REVEALED EVIDENCE THAT THE STABILATORS AND LEFT WING FAILED FROM OVERLOAD IN A DOWNWARD DIRECTION, THE RIGHT OUTBOARD WING PANEL FAILED UPWARD FROM OVERLOAD, AND THE VERTICAL STABILIZER HAD FAILED TO THE RIGHT FROM TORSIONAL LOADS. THE AIRPLANE HAD BEEN RECENTLY STRIPPED AND REPAINTED, BUT NO PRE-ACCIDENT MECHANICAL DEFICIENCY WAS FOUND.

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

VFR FLIGHT BY THE PILOT INTO INSTRUMENT METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS (IMC), HIS LOSS OF AIRCRAFT CONTROL DUE TO SPATIAL DISORIENTATION, AND EXCEEDING THE DESIGN STRESS LIMITS OF THE AIRCRAFT. FACTORS RELATED TO THE ACCIDENT WERE: DARKNESS, THE ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS, AND THE PILOT'S LACK OF INSTRUMENT EXPERIENCE.

Full narrative available

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