NTSB Identification: DEN01FA064.
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Accident occurred Sunday, February 18, 2001 in Wendover, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/30/2001
Aircraft: Beech V35, registration: N5757K
Injuries: 3 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.

A witness, who watched the non-instrument rated private pilot make the night takeoff, said there was a light rain falling and the skies were overcast. Radar data disclosed a primary target just east of Wendover on a southwesterly track. It made a turn and flew north, passing Wendover. It flew towards the northeast, then turned northwest and held this course, then made a 270 degree turn to the left, followed by another left turn of at least 270 degrees. It then continued on an easterly course until radar contact was lost. No mode C (altitude reporting) returns were recorded. The accident site was in mountainous terrain at the 6,944-foot level near the point where radar contact was lost. Examination of the wreckage indicated the airplane impacted terrain in a steep nose down attitude.

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

The pilot flying at an altitude insufficient to clear surrounding terrain. Contributing factors were the pilot becoming lost/disoriented, his subsequent spatial disorientation, and dark night conditions.

Full narrative available

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