NTSB Identification: MIA01LA212.
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Accident occurred Thursday, August 09, 2001 in Key West, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/20/2002
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-260, registration: N5569J
Injuries: 2 Fatal,1 Uninjured.

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 the pilot, the flight was planned as a commercial sight-seeing flight in the Key West vicinity. The customers were an elderly Hispanic couple who spoke little English. Upon reaching cruising altitude, the male passenger left his seat, encroached into the cockpit, produced a knife, turned the radios and transponder off, and demanded to be flown to Cuba. In an attempt to thwart the hijacking, the pilot pitched over to produce negative "g" to disable the hijacker, and headed back to Key West. In the ensuing struggle, the hijacker fell against and bent the retarded throttle. Attempts to straighten the throttle shaft snapped it off, and an idle power ditching was conducted. At water impact, forward motion stopped violently, and the lap-belted passengers appeared to lose consciousness. The pilot egressed from the right cockpit door, inflated his life vest, and swam to the passenger door to extricate the passengers, but the aircraft started sinking before he could get the door open. The passengers went down with the aircraft, and the pilot was rescued by a U. S. Navy helicopter. Neither aircraft nor passengers have been recovered to date.

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

The inadvertent disabling of the throttle in the idle position during a cockpit disturbance created when an armed hijacker forcibly attempted to cause the aircraft to fly to Cuba, resulting in a loss of controllability of power for sustainable flight and an emergency descent and ditching.

Full narrative available

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