NTSB Identification: FTW01FA101.
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Accident occurred Sunday, April 22, 2001 in Brackettville, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/05/2002
Aircraft: Piper PA-34-220T, registration: N4312G
Injuries: 2 Fatal,2 Serious.

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 obtained three weather briefings prior to takeoff for a visual flight rules night cross-country flight. According to the weather briefings, thunderstorms, heavy rain and hail were forecast for the destination area. The pilot radioed a flight service station over a flight watch frequency while en route to obtain updated weather for the destination. The pilot was informed that rain had passed through the destination airport area within the previous hour and that there were thunderstorms northwest of the airport. The airplane disappeared from radar 13 minutes following this in-flight weather update. The radar data depicted the airplane descending from 2,800 feet to 2,300 feet prior to disappearing from radar coverage. The last two radar returns depicted the airplane making a turn towards the northwest. One of the surviving passengers stated that while en route, "the weather started getting bad." The airplane struck trees in hilly terrain approximately 1,675 feet msl. No aircraft or engine anomalies were noted that would have prevented normal operations. The pilot's toxicology tests indicated that he was taking sertraline, an antidepressant medication. The FAA did not issue the pilot a medical certificate at the time of his last medical application.

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

the pilot's intentional low flight and his poor judgment to intentionally fly into known adverse weather, which resulted in an in-flight collision with terrain. Contributing factors were the dark night conditions and the thunderstorm.

Full narrative available

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