NTSB Identification: ATL03LA011.
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Accident occurred Thursday, October 31, 2002 in Laurel Bloomery, TN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/23/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-200, registration: N15704
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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 pilot was in visual cruise flight over mountainous terrain at 6,500 feet when he noticed clouds building at 5,000 feet and decided to return to the airport. The pilot descended through a half- to one-mile gap in the clouds, and, at 4,500 feet, clear ice began to form rapidly on the airplane. The pilot descended to 2,500 feet in a mountain valley and the airframe ice began melting. The pilot then initiated a climb to clear a ridgeline, but the airplane collided with trees and caught fire. The pilot reported no mechanical malfunctions with the airplane. Recorded weather data revealed low ceilings in the vicinity throughout the morning. The pilot stated he did not obtain a weather briefing.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance with terrain, which resulted in an inflight collision with mountainous terrain. Factors were the pilot's inadequate preflight planning and failure to obtain weather information, which resulted in an inflight encounter with adverse weather.

Full narrative available

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