NTSB Identification: SEA97FA006.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 08, 1996 in CLE ELUM, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-34-200T, registration: N666HL
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 pilot went to a doctor 6 hours before reporting to fly, and was diagnosed with gastritis, reflux symptoms, and fatigue. Just before taking off on the accident flight, the pilot complained to a fellow company pilot that he felt ill, expressing fear of repercussions from his company if he grounded himself. A few minutes before disappearing from contact with air traffic control, he radioed the fellow pilot (who was in another company aircraft on the same route): 'I don't feel so good...I feel like I'm going to toss my cookies.' The aircraft wreckage was located about 11 hours after the disappearance, with the pilot fatally injured inside. Wreckage distribution at the accident site was indicative of inflight separation of the right wing and horizontal stabilator. Subsequent examination indicated that the wing and stabilator separations were a result of overstress. No evidence of mechanical problems was noted, other than the separated wing and stabilator. In constructing a history of the pilot's activities before the accident, investigators found that his activities for the two days before the accident (during a rest period) were on a schedule inconsistent with his night air cargo duties.

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

The pilot's physical impairment of judgment and performance, his decision to fly while impaired, and his subsequent failure to maintain control of the aircraft which led to the aircraft's design stress limits being exceeded and inflight separation of the horizontal stabiliator and right wing. Contributing to the accident were: pilot fatigue and self-induced pressure to fly.

Full narrative available

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