NTSB Identification: LAX96FA275.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, July 17, 1996 in TENNANT, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/14/1997
Aircraft: Piper PA-24-260, registration: N9324P
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 departed San Jose, California, on a cross-country flight to Sisters, Oregon. He obtained a standard preflight weather briefing. Visual flight was not recommended. Cumulus buildups were reported to the pilot. The pilot indicated that he may be overflying the cloud tops. He did not file a flight plan. The pilot's wife was driving to the same location and they talked by cell phone while en route. When the pilot failed to arrive at the destination a search was started. According to radar data, the aircraft was at 15,400 feet when it started a rapid descent. Radar was lost at 11,800 feet. Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft descending near vertically out of broken clouds with the engine at full power. When the aircraft was found, the right outboard wing panel from about station 110 outboard was missing. About a month later the outer wing panel was found. Analysis of the failed structure indicated a positive overload of the wing and the horizontal stabilators.

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.

Full narrative available

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