NTSB Identification: SEA97FA105B
Accident occurred Saturday, May 10, 1997 in CLINTON, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/24/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-200, registration: N5270T
Injuries: 3 Fatal,2 Uninjured.

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 of the Cessna 182, N5434B, called departing as a flight of two behind the Piper PA-28R-200, N5270T, and was cleared by tower to depart as a flight of two. The passenger in the Piper reported that shortly before the two aircraft collided, he observed the high-wing Cessna 45 degrees aft and right of the low-wing Piper, well low, but then lost sight of the Cessna and did not regain sight of it before the collision. The line of sight from the Cessna to the sun just before the collision was computed to be approximately at the Cessna's 9:30 position, 65 degrees above the horizon, with the line of sight from the Cessna to the Piper at about the Cessna's 10:30 position and well high. The Piper pilot reported that at the time of the collision, he was looking at opposite direction traffic in front of and above the Piper. The Cessna's empennage separated and the Cessna crashed. The Piper was able to return to the departure airport and land. The Piper pilot reported that the Cessna pilot made no prior arrangements with him to fly in formation.

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

Inadequate prior arrangements for formation flight by the pilot-in-command of the Cessna 182, N5434B, and his subsequent failure to see-and-avoid the Piper PA-28R, N5270T. Factors were: the Cessna pilot's visibility of the Piper impaired by the sun; restricted visibility for both aircraft due to low wing/high wing formation configuration; and the Piper pilot's attention diverted to other traffic.

Full narrative available

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