NTSB Identification: FTW02FA192.
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Accident occurred Sunday, June 30, 2002 in Gorman, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/01/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-24-260, registration: N8681P
Injuries: 4 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.

The instrument-rated pilot lost control of the airplane, which experienced an in-flight break-up, after encountering instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) while on a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country flight. There was no record of a weather briefing or air traffic control (ATC) communications for the accident airplane. Radar data, assumed to be that of the accident airplane, revealed it was climbing from 7,300 to 8,500 feet before descending rapidly to 4,700 feet, which was the altitude of the last radar return. The radar data depicted the airplane making a left turn followed by a right turn (the right turn took place during the rapid descent). The aircraft fuselage was located approximately 4,500 feet southwest from the last radar return. The wreckage was distributed along a 1.4-mile wreckage path. Weather radar data at the time of the accident was overlayed onto the ATC radar data. The combined information depicted the airplane flying through the leading edge of a precipitation cell that was in the area. The pilot's logbooks were not located, therefore, his instrument currency and experience was left undefined. No anomalies were noted with the airplane, engine, or its flight instruments that would have contributed to the accident. No distress calls were received from the airplane.

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

The pilot's loss of control and the exceedence of the design limits of the airplane which resulted in an in-flight break-up. A factor was inadvertent VFR flight into IMC.

Full narrative available

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