NTSB Identification: DEN04FA079.
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Accident occurred Sunday, May 23, 2004 in Pinedale, WY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/13/2005
Aircraft: Mooney M20K, registration: N231DL
Injuries: 3 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 non-instrument rated private pilot had been airborne for approximately 3 hours when he approached the Wind River Range in central Wyoming. Radar data indicated that he descended from 15,500 feet to 14,300 feet (because of weather) to cross the continental divide at Gannett Peak, elevation 13,804 feet,. Radar data indicates that approximately 20 seconds later, the airplane was in an approximate 4,200 feet per minute rate of descent. Satellite imagery and NEXRAD Doppler data suggest that at the pilot's ground track location, the mountain was experiencing light to intermittent snow showers according to the NTSB meteorologist. No endorsements could be found in the pilot's flight logbook to indicate that he had received any mountain flying training. Search and rescue teams found the airplane 3 days later. No evidence of a mechanical failure was found.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's inadvertent flight into adverse weather conditions, and his failure to maintain terrain clearance while maneuvering. Contributing factors were the downdraft, the snow shower weather and mountainous terrain. Full narrative available
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