NTSB Identification: NYC03FA061.
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Accident occurred Sunday, March 02, 2003 in Monterey, MA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/03/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-300, registration: N4072R
Injuries: 4 Fatal,3 Serious.

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 pilot, his wife, and five children, were returning to Keene, New Hampshire (EEN), after a trip to Florida. During a stop in North Carolina, the pilot's wife called her brother to inform him that they were "unsure" of the weather at Keene and would be flying to Utica or Hamilton, New York, to stay with him. While en route the pilot's wife informed her brother that the weather at Keene was clearer then they expected, and they wanted to get the children home in time for school the next day. About 1 hour later, the pilot informed air traffic control that he did not like the weather at his destination, canceled his IFR clearance, and requested VFR advisories to an airport in Westfield, Massachusetts. The airplane landed at an airport in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, about 1900. The airplane departed from runway 29, about 2003. After takeoff, the airplane made a climbing right turn onto a northeast heading. The airplane continued on east-northeast heading and impacted terrain about 5 minutes after takeoff. The airplane was located at an elevation of about 1,920 feet msl, about 7.5 miles east of the departure airport. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any pre-impact malfunctions. An AIRMET for IFR conditions was valid for accident site at the time of the accident. One of the children remembered the airplane "landing somewhere dark" and the pilot not being able to locate a telephone. The weather reported about the time of the accident, at an airport with an elevation of 1,193 feet, located about 15 miles north of the accident site, included a visibility of 8 miles, few clouds at 900 feet, a broken ceiling at 1,300 feet and overcast at 1,800 feet. The weather reported at EEN, which was located about 70 miles northeast of the accident site, with an elevation of about 488 feet, at 1855, included: a visibility of 1/2 statute miles; and an overcast ceiling of 100 feet. At 1955, the visibility reported at EEN increased to 3/4 statute miles; however, the ceiling remained 100 feet overcast. Astronomical data for the accident site area revealed that sunset occurred at 1744, and the end of civil twilight occurred at 1812.

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

The pilot's improper decision to attempt a visual flight rules (VFR) flight in marginal VFR weather conditions over mountainous terrain, which resulted in an in-flight collision with trees. Factors in this accident were clouds and night light conditions.

Full narrative available

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