NTSB Identification: SEA00FA074.
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Accident occurred Sunday, April 16, 2000 in BABB, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/18/2001
Aircraft: Maule M-5-210C, registration: N284X
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.

During a personal flight, the aircraft collided with mountainous terrain. The pilot made several telephone calls to the Flight Service Station earlier that day for weather briefings. The specialist reported that VFR flight was not recommended at the time the pilot had originally planned for, but that it was improving later in the day. The pilot had also indicated a flight course that was different from the accident flight course, which took him into high mountainous terrain. During the pilot's last conversation with the FSS, the specialist informed the pilot of the thick cloud cover over the mountains and that he may have difficulty getting over the mountains. Radar data indicates that the aircraft was maneuvering in a possible course reversal when the aircraft dropped from radar coverage. The wreckage at the accident site indicates that the aircraft collided with mountainous terrain about 900 feet below a 9,200-foot ridgeline. The area was snow covered, and an avalanche buried a majority of the wreckage that was scattered down the 40-degree slope for about half a mile. Due to adverse conditions, the recovery of the wreckage was not attempted until late summer. When recovery was attempted, a majority of the wreckage to include the cockpit, fuselage and engine had slid down the 40-degree slope and into the lake directly below. Those items have not been recovered.

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

Terrain clearance was not maintained. High mountains, mountain obscuration, and the pilot's inadequate preflight planning/preparation were factors.

Full narrative available

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