NTSB Identification: IAD96FA090.
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Accident occurred Monday, June 03, 1996 in WINSLOW, ME
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/31/1997
Aircraft: Cessna 320C, registration: N78KA
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 airplane was cruising at 18,000 feet msl when radar and radio communication were lost. Radar data indicated the airplane made a 180 degree turn before impacting in a river. Witnesses reported that they heard the airplane, then saw it spiraling through the clouds. Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed no evidence of a preimpact anomaly. Weather data indicated a temperature of minus 9 to 10 degrees Celsius at 18,000 feet msl and a freezing level at 9,000 to 13,000 feet msl. An airmet (Zulu Update 3) was in effect for icing and freezing level conditions, which pertained to the route of flight, and there were numerous pilot reports of icing conditions in the vicinity of the accident. The pilot requested and obtained an abbreviated preflight weather briefing, and he was advised by ATC of information in the airmet. According to the owner's manual, pilots of this make/model airplane should avoid icing conditions whenever possible. The airplane was not equipped with deicing equipment, and the pitot heat switch was found in the off position.

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, and his loss of aircraft control, which resulted in an uncontrolled descent into terrain (river). The known icing condition was a related factor.

Full narrative available

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