NTSB Identification: SEA97FA120.
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Accident occurred Saturday, May 24, 1997 in BEND, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/24/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-301T, registration: N83211
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 last radio communications from the pilot indicated that they were in instrument meteorological conditions and experiencing updrafts and picking up ice on the structure. Widely scattered thunderstorms and rain were reported in the area. Light to occasional moderate rime and mixed icing in the precipitation was reported from the freezing level to 12,000 feet. Moderate turbulence was reported for the entire state. Witnesses on the ground heard the sound of the engine but could not see the airplane. The witnesses reported that a 'pretty nasty looking cloud' with the sounds of thunder was in the area when they heard a sound similar to a sonic boom. After this sound, the aircraft's engine was no longer heard. Evidence at the accident site indicated that the aircraft broke-up in flight. The left wing separated at the root, the right wing separated about 109 inches from the root. Both the horizontal stabilizers and the vertical stabilizer separated from the empennage. Metallurgical examination of the fractured components were typical of overstress separations. Both the wings and the horizontal stabilator failed in a downward loading condition.

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

Overload of the airframe structure. Thunderstorms and turbulence were factors.

Full narrative available

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