NTSB Identification: DEN99FA029.
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Accident occurred Thursday, December 31, 1998 in WEST JORDAN, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/16/2001
Aircraft: Piper PA-24-180, registration: N7283P
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 pilot and a business client had departed Salt Lake City on the morning of the accident, and were planning to fly to Elko, Nevada, to pick up another business associate and bring him back for a business meeting. However, according to a supervisor at the Wendover Airport, the aircraft diverted there instead. FAA records indicate that the pilot was advised during each of his weather briefings that VFR flight was not recommended, with AIRMETs for icing and mountain obscuration. At the time of their departure from Wendover, the mountains to the east and west were obscured. During the return flight to Salt Lake City, the pilot contacted Flight Watch requesting assistance. He advised the briefer that he was in instrument conditions, stating that he felt disoriented and thought he was flying upside down. At 1515, radio and radar contact with the pilot were subsequently lost. The search for the missing aircraft was hampered due to deteriorating weather conditions in the area. The wreckage was located early the following morning. The outboard section of the right wing separated in flight and was found 400 yards from the main wreckage.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's poor judgement by intentionally flying into instrument meteorological conditions without proper certification. Factors were the resulting spatial disorientation, the pilot's failure to maintain control of the aircraft, the in-flight wing separation, and the existing weather conditions that included snow, obscuration and fog. Full narrative available
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