NTSB Identification: SEA98FA089.
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Accident occurred Sunday, June 07, 1998 in CANYON CREEK, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/10/2000
Aircraft: Mooney M20A, registration: N1048B
Injuries: 1 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.

Prior to takeoff, the pilot received a weather briefing for his proposed route of flight. The specialist reported low ceilings and mountain obscuration along the route, and suggested a route of flight away from the mountains and poor weather conditions. The pilot filed a visual flight rules flight plan for his original route. Approaching his destination, the pilot contacted air traffic and advised that he needed assistance in locating an airport that was clear of the weather, as he was on top of an overcast layer and could not see the ground. The controller informed the pilot of the multiple cloud layers in the area and to remain in visual conditions. With the aid of other pilots in the area who were reporting actual weather conditions, the controller was maneuvering the aircraft to an area where he might be able to get below the overcast layer. While en route, the pilot notified the controller that he saw a hole and was going to try and punch through it. Shortly after this time, the aircraft dropped off radar contact and there was no further communication from the pilot. Evidence found at the accident site indicated that the aircraft broke-up in flight. The low-time, non-instrument rated pilot had just purchased the airplane and had not received the complex aircraft sign-off for solo operation.

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

The design stress limits of the aircraft was exceeded. The pilot's inadequate preflight planning/preparation, lack of an instrument rating, poor weather evaluation and low ceilings and mountain obscuration were factors.

Full narrative available

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