NTSB Identification: MIA96FA134.
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Accident occurred Monday, April 29, 1996 in POWELTON, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/1998
Aircraft: Beech V35, registration: N102A
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 pilot was briefed that thunderstorms were developing along his planned route of flight, and were forecast to become 'severe.' In addition, he received a hazardous weather information alert (HIWAS), with hail, wind gusts to 70 knots, and cloud tops to 55,000 feet. The pilot contacted ATC and expressed his concern about the weather on his route of flight. ATC cleared him to deviate around the weather. While deviating around the weather, the pilot said to the controller, '...I'm into a cell here I think I need to get down...Bonanza one zero two alpha I need to go down.' The pilot was cleared to descend to 5,000 feet, and 1 minute and 2 seconds after being cleared to descend, the pilot said to the controller, 'I'm in a pretty bad cell I need help, over.' Radar and radio communication with the flight was lost and never reestablished. The last recorded radar return showed the airplane at an altitude of 6,700 feet, heading in a northeasterly direction. Before the airplane impacted the ground, a witness said he heard an airplane 'in a steep descent, straight down dive,' and the engine was running until he heard a 'loud boom.' The witness said, the weather at the time was 'lightning, thunder, and strong winds.' The left wing and tail stabilizer had separated from the airframe prior to impact . A weather study revealed that at the time of the accident the airplane had progressed into an area of strong thunderstorm activity with cloud tops of about 42,000 to 43,000 feet, with a level three to level four thunderstorm within 0.25 nautical mile of the flight, and a level four thunderstorm within 0.5 nautical mile. In addition, the thunderstorms contained intense to extreme precipitation, severe to extreme turbulence, and hail.

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

the pilot's continued flight into known adverse weather conditions, resulting in an in-flight separation of the left wing and ruddervator. Factors in this accident were: level three and four thunderstorms, intense to extreme precipitation, and severe turbulence.

Full narrative available

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