NTSB Identification: FTW95FA402.
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Sunday, September 24, 1995 in WESTCLIFFE, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/27/1996
Aircraft: PIPER PA-24B-260, registration: N9121P
Injuries: 5 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.

WHEN THE PILOT CONTACTED THE RENO, NEVADA, FLIGHT SERVICE STATION, HE DECLINED A STANDARD BRIEFING, BUT REQUESTED A ROUTE FORECAST BETWEEN LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, AND COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO. HE WAS ADVISED OF AN AIRMET FOR MOUNTAIN OBSCUREMENT, OCCASIONAL MODERATE RIME ICING IN CLOUDS AND PRECIPITATION BETWEEN 8,000 AND 17,000 FEET EAST OF THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE. ALSO, HE WAS ADVISED OF IFR CONDITIONS FROM PUEBLO NORTH TO DENVER. THE PILOT FILED A VFR FLIGHT PLAN AND DEPARTED. WITNESSES NEAR THE ACCIDENT SITE SAID THEY HEARD A LOW FLYING AIRPLANE AND THE SOUNDS OF IMPACT. IMPACT OCCURRED AT DUSK, NEAR THE TOP OF A RIDGE. NO PREIMPACT MECHANICAL PROBLEM WAS FOUND. WEATHER WAS DESCRIBED AS 100' TO 200' VISIBILITY, FREEZING TEMPERATURE, FOG, AND INTERMITTENT LIGHT SNOW. ALTHOUGH THE PILOT WAS INSTRUMENT RATED, HIS LOGBOOK CONTAINED NO RECORDED INSTRUMENT FLIGHT TIME, EITHER SIMULATED OR ACTUAL, IN THE LAST 13 YEARS. FIVE PEOPLE WERE ABOARD THE AIRPLANE, ALTHOUGH IT WAS EQUIPPED WITH ONLY FOUR SEATS. AUTOPSY PROTOCOL DISCLOSED THE PILOT HAD 'PATCHY FIBROSIS COMPATIBLE WITH PREVIOUS CARDIAC ISCHEMIA' AND 'SIGNIFICANT ARTERIOSCLEROSIS.' TOXICOLOGICAL PROTOCOL DISCLOSED THE PRESENCE OF THIAZIDES, A DIURETIC USED IN HEART MEDICATION.

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), AND HIS FAILURE TO MAINTAIN SUFFICIENT ALTITUDE OR CLEARANCE FROM MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN. FACTORS RELATING TO THE ACCIDENT WERE: THE LIGHT CONDITIONS AT DUSK, THE ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS, AND THE PILOT'S LACK OF RECENT INSTRUMENT EXPERIENCE.

Full narrative available

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