NTSB Identification: FTW02FA095.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, March 12, 2002 in Marianna, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/30/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-28RT-201T, registration: N84719
Injuries: 2 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.

Approximately 43 minutes after departure on a cross-country flight, the airplane was substantially damaged while maneuvering when it failed to maintain clearance with terrain in a heavily wooded area about 1 1/2 miles west of the Mississippi River. The non-instrument rated private pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. The pilot contacted the Jonesboro Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS), in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and requested an en route weather briefing, initially commenting, "Gonna head over to Tunica, VFR. I'll be skuddin it, it looks like." The specialist advised the pilot that there weren't any Airmets across the route of flight, there was nothing on radar, high pressure was building from the west, and that to the east, the area was still under the influence of a low pressure system. The specialist also reported that Memphis, located 42 nautical miles northeast and the closest weather reporting point to the accident site, was reporting broken clouds at 1,100 feet, but had just dropped down to a ceiling of 900 feet broken, 1,400 feet overcast, 2 1/2 miles visibility, and ceiling variable between about 700 feet and 1,100 feet. A Senior NTSB meteorologist reported that the lower atmosphere in the Memphis area was nearly saturated, and that the Memphis cloud ceiling gradually lowered after the pilot obtained his en route weather briefing. The 1853 Memphis observation reported a variable ceiling between 400 and 1,100 feet, light drizzle, and mist. The meteorologist also reported that it was likely that encountered instrument meteorological conditions just prior to the accident, which were similar to the conditions being reported in the Memphis area.

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

The pilot's continued flight into adverse weather conditions and his failure to maintain clearance with terrain while maneuvering. Factors were, the low cloud and mist weather conditions, and the dark night light conditions.

Full narrative available

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