NTSB Identification: ATL02LA144.
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Accident occurred Saturday, July 20, 2002 in Atlantic Ocean, Bahamas
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/02/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-32RT-300, registration: N9738C
Injuries: 5 Fatal.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The non-instrument rated private pilot encountered level 4 thunderstorms and collided into the Atlantic Ocean, 15 miles west of Freeport, Bahamas. There were no records of weather briefings made to the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration prior to the accident. According to the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center, the airplane was at a cruise altitude of 4700 feet when radio and radar contact was lost. During the subsequent search for the missing airplane, the Coast Guard recovered three occupants and about 300 pounds of aircraft wreckage/debris.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot continued VFR flight into IMC and thunderstorm conditions which resulted in spatial disorientation and subsequent loss of control of the airplane. Full narrative available
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