NTSB Identification: NYC98FA180.
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Accident occurred Monday, September 07, 1998 in SHUNK, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/21/2000
Aircraft: Beech A23-24, registration: N453D
Injuries: 5 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.

Two non-instrument-rated private pilots and three passengers decided to return home after a weekend visit. A friend tried to dissuade them from flying because of the existing weather conditions, but was told they had to return home because, among other things, the children's school started the next day. The friend then offered to drive home with them, and bring their rental car back. The pilots declined, but assured him they would not fly if the weather was too bad. At the airport, one of the pilots was seen checking the weather computer a number of times, and the group was noted as being 'pretty concerned about the weather.' The airplane departed Elmira where the weather was reported at 1622 hours as 3,600 foot overcast with light rain, and climbed to about 8,500 feet into, or near instrument meteorological conditions. The radar track showed the aircraft transitioning from a climbing right turn approximately 8,500 feet to a rapidly descending right turn. An altitude loss of 1,600 feet in 12 seconds was recorded. It was observed descending from a cloud layer, in a spin, with part of the left wing missing, just before impacting terrain. The pilot-owner was in the left front seat, and the other pilot was in the right front seat. At the time of the accident, the airplane was near its maximum gross weight. Post-crash metallurgical examination of left wing spar fracture surfaces revealed features typical of overstress separation and no pre-existing crack features.

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

The pilot-in-command's attempted flight into known adverse weather conditions, his failure to maintain control of the aircraft, and his exceeding the airframe design limits resulting in separation of the outboard left wing. Contributing factors were clouds, self induced pressure, spatial disorientation, and the lack of instrument certification/experience of both the pilot and pilot/passenger.

Full narrative available

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