NTSB Identification: SEA03FA042.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, March 05, 2003 in Rexburg, ID
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/02/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-34-220T, registration: N9257X
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.

At the end of the second leg of a long cross country flight, the pilot cancelled his IFR flight plan about seven miles south of the destination airport. The first leg of the flight was approximately three hours, 40 minutes in length with the pilot reporting unexpected high winds along the route that were slowing his progress. The flight was diverted to an alternate destination for fueling. The second leg was approximately four hours and 50 minutes in length with the pilot reporting to air traffic control toward the end of the flight that the aircraft was picking up mild rime ice on the wings and windshield. The pilot reported to the controller the need to descend due to the ice and "fuel situation." A witness at the airport reported that the pilot radioed his intentions and position over the Unicom frequency that he was entering a left downwind for runway 17. Although the position of that downwind appeared normal, the aircraft stayed on the downwind leg long enough that when it turned from base leg to final approach, it was three to four miles from the end of the runway. The aircraft was then observed to proceed inbound on final approach on a vertical approach path that was significantly lower than what other aircraft normally used when landing on this runway. When the aircraft was just over a mile from the end of the runway, at an estimated altitude of 200 feet above ground level, it suddenly rolled steeply to the right and made a descending turn into the terrain. The pilot, who had been making normal position calls, both prior to and after entering the pattern, did not indicate that he was having any problem with the aircraft. At the time the winds were reported from 210 degrees at 24 knots, with gusts to 36 knots. Post accident inspection of the airframe and engines did not reveal evidence of a mechanical failure or malfunction.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control while on final approach. High and gusting winds were a factor.

Full narrative available

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