NTSB Identification: CHI97FA146.
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Accident occurred Monday, May 26, 1997 in ANTONIA, MO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/30/1998
Aircraft: Henry BARRACUDA, registration: N5926
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.

A witness 'heard a plane flying very low and the engine was cutting in and out.' He looked across the valley and saw 'a small aircraft flying below the ridge very erratic.' The witness said he saw the airplane go into a roll and descend at a 45-degree angle. 'Just as I lost sight (of the airplane), the engine seemed to rev up slightly, then stop. I could hear the plane hitting the tree tops and then a loud thud.' Another witness said that he saw the airplane 'enter the clouds and then re-appear at tree top level in a descending left turn.' The witness said that as the airplane disappeared from sight, the engine sound increased, then decreased, followed by the sound of the airplane crashing into the trees. The pilot was not instrument rated. The weather was reported as broken to overcast ceiling of 400 feet mean sea level (MSL), 2 miles visibility, and winds from 110 degrees at 7 knots. There was no report that the pilot received a weather briefing before flight. The outboard 8 feet of the left wing was located 405 feet east-northeast of the main wreckage, and the left flap was found about 435 feet east-southeast of the main wreckage. An exam of the left wing revealed evidence of an in-flight breakup. The left main spar was bent upward and splintered. The wood laminates covering the forward and aft surfaces of the spar section showed wood fibers pulled apart in an upward vector. No anomalies were found that would have occurred before the in-flight breakup.

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

inadvertent flight by the pilot into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), spatial disorientation of the pilot, which led to his loss of aircraft control, and the pilot exceeding the design stress limits of the airplane, which led to an in-flight breakup of the airplane. Factors related to the accident were: the pilot not obtaining a weather briefing before flight, an encounter with adverse weather (low ceiling and fog), and the pilot's lack of instrument experience.

Full narrative available

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