NTSB Identification: ANC96FA137.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Sunday, September 01, 1996 in HAINES, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/15/1997
Aircraft: Piper PA-32, registration: N2181Z
Injuries: 4 Serious,2 Minor.

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 air taxi pilot initiated flight over an extensive field of glaciers. The passengers described a gray, overcast sky, with a snow field below and snow on the surrounding mountains. They estimated the cruise altitude was between 100 and 500 feet above the glacier. The flight encountered a fog bank in the direction of travel; before reaching the fog, the pilot elected to turn around. During the turn, the airplane descended and collided with the glacier. Postaccident inspection disclosed no evidence of any preexisting mechanical anomaly with the airplane.

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

the pilot's inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) failure to maintain adequate altitude/clearance from terrain, while maneuvering to reverse the direction of flight. Factors associated with the accident were: the pilot's inadequate weather evaluation; and the terrain and weather, which resulted in a whiteout condition.

Full narrative available

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