NTSB Identification: SEA96FA036.
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Accident occurred Monday, January 01, 1996 in LEHI, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/10/1996
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-235, registration: N8870W
Injuries: 1 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 instrument-rated commercial pilot received a weather briefing for a VFR cross-country flight. The briefer described deteriorating VFR conditions along the pilot's route of flight, and the pilot elected not to file an IFR flight plan. The pilot departed on the flight and encountered dark night conditions in mountainous terrain near his destination. Lowering cloud ceilings and blowing snow were reported in the vicinity of the accident site about the time of the accident. The airplane impacted mountainous terrain near the top of a ridge about 20 miles from the intended destination. Radar data showed that the airplane had entered a climbing turn and was climbing through about 5000 feet msl when the last radar return was recorded. Elevation of the crash site was about 5000 feet. No distress calls or communications to ATC were made by the pilot, and no preimpact mechanical malfunction was found.

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

continued VFR flight by the pilot into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), and his failure to maintain sufficient altitude and/or clearance from mountainous terrain. Factors relating to the accident were: darkness, low ceiling, and snow.

Full narrative available

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