NTSB Identification: MIA97FA097.
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Accident occurred Friday, March 14, 1997 in ANDREWS, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/10/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-24-260, registration: N8857P
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 did not obtain a formal weather briefing before departure. While en route during an IFR flight, the pilot changed his destination. The flight proceeded to a nearby VOR, then nearly over the airport, and after flying past the airport the pilot advised the controller that he would orbit in that area to look for a break in the clouds. He observed a hole in the clouds, so advised the controller, and canceled his IFR clearance. While descending over mountainous terrain, the airplane first collided with trees on the upslope side of the mountain about 3,200 feet mean sea level. The airplane continued descending in a left wing low attitude and collided with the downslope side of the mountain. Examination of the airplane and engine revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. The weather at the destination airport, with an elevation of 1,700 feet, and about 41 minutes before the crash, was a broken ceiling of about 2,000 feet above ground level, as reported by a pilot-witness.

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

The pilot's poor in-flight planning in attempting to maintain VFR conditions at night over mountainous terrain, and his failure to maintain clearance from the mountain. Contributing to the accident was: the pilot's inadequate preflight planning for not obtaining a formal weather briefing, and his self-induced pressure to arrive before a specific time for the start of a planned event.

Full narrative available

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