NTSB Identification: SEA97LA048.
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Accident occurred Saturday, January 11, 1997 in SUN RIVER, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/30/1997
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-161, registration: N8414B
Injuries: 2 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot, who was accompanied by a private pilot observer, descended through a hole in the clouds, while diverting from the planned destination due to en route weather conditions. During the descent, visual contact with the surface was lost. The pilot stated that as he resumed level cruise flight, they saw snow-covered trees and attempted to climb by adding full power and pitching up. Also, he said that when they saw that the terrain was rising faster than the airplane was climbing, they pulled back on the control wheel and made a power-on mushing flare into the pine trees and came to a stop in 3 feet of snow. The two pilots spent the night with the wreckage in winter conditions and were rescued the following morning.

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

inadvertent VFR flight by the pilot into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), and his failure to maintain altitude/clearance above moutainous/wooded terrain. Factors relating to the accident were: darkness, adverse weather conditions, and the proximity of mountainous terrain.

Full narrative available

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