NTSB Identification: MIA01LA089.
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Accident occurred Saturday, March 03, 2001 in Gulfport, MS
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/20/2002
Aircraft: Piper PA-32RT-300T, registration: N911PL
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

According to transcripts of the Saint Petersburg AFSS telephone brief of flight conditions given to a person represented as the pilot of N911PL for a VFR flight plan between Tampa, Florida and Beaumont, Texas, on March 3, 2001. Due to a stationary frontal system lying between northern Georgia and a point in the Gulf of Mexico west of New Orleans, severe thunderstorm watches were in effect, moderate turbulence, strong headwinds, surface and aloft hail to 1 inch possible, wind gusts to 60 knots possible with maximum tops of thunderstorms about 45,000 feet existed along his intended flight path. Numerous SIGMETS, AIRMETS, and weather watches were in effect prior to and during the actual flight. The destination forecast called for IFR ceilings until 2000 local time although the flight plan called for a destination arrival time of 1438. The flight departed Tampa at 1208 and was advised by FAA Gulfport Approach Control that FAA New Orleans Approach Control recommended the flight not continue VFR. Once the pilot accepted the recommendation, Gulfport suggested a heading, but the radar return was observed to take a different heading, start a high rate of descent, and communications ceased at 1422 local time. A Coast Guard helicopter sighted wreckage pieces at about the 216 degree radial/ 17 miles from the Gulfport VOR at about 1509. A Coast Guard vessel was dispatched to the scene and recovered aircraft seats, interior parts, personal luggage, and an undeployed life raft. Subsequently, the left wing was recovered and the wing/fuselage attachments underwent NTSB Materials Laboratory analysis. The fractures were indicative of overstress in the upward, (assuming upright aircraft orientation) direction. No other pieces of the wreckage nor the pilot was recovered to date.

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

the pilot's attempted flight into known adverse weather, resulting in an in flight loss of control, exceedance of design limits of the aircraft, and wing separation prior to collision with water.

Full narrative available

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