NTSB Identification: CHI97FA200.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, July 02, 1997 in ST. PAUL, MN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/28/1999
Aircraft: Piper PA-32R-301, registration: N83353
Injuries: 3 Fatal,1 Serious,1 Minor.

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.

Shortly after takeoff in gusty winds, the forward baggage door opened. The pilot attempted to return to the airport when the airplane impacted trees and descended into the river. The passengers stated the airplane was at a low altitude, the wings were rocking left and right, and a buzzer was sounding just before the accident. One passenger stated to his knowledge the baggage door was latched, but not locked prior to takeoff. Inspection of the baggage door latch after the accident showed it was in the latched position. No failure of the latch was noted which would have resulted in it opening during the flight. The takeoff was performed on runway 16 and the winds were from 210 degrees at 13 knots, gusting to 21 knots.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed which resulted in a stall. Related factors were the pilot's diverted attention and gusty wind conditions.

Full narrative available

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