NTSB Identification: SEA05LA067.
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Accident occurred Saturday, March 26, 2005 in La Grande, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/27/2005
Aircraft: Hoover Challenger II STD, registration: N4018G
Injuries: 2 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 two seat experimental amateur-built airplane was destroyed when it impacted rough, sloping mountainous terrain heading north, coming to rest on a southerly heading just west of an interstate highway. A witness, who was driving north on the interstate, observed the airplane over the freeway, but lost sight of it in the snow and clouds as it proceeded west. A couple of minutes later the witness observed the airplane coming from the west and appeared to be trying to climb as it was being bounced around, then going out of sight due to the poor visibility. The witness subsequently came upon the wreckage a few minutes later, spotting what appeared to be a wing on the hillside just to the west of the freeway. No preimpact mechanical malfunctions were found during examination of the wreckage. A National Weather Service area forecast issued earlier in the day revealed that a strong and moist Pacific system was moving into the Pacific Northwest. Wind advisories were also to be issued that afternoon.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's VFR flight into IMC and his failure to maintain clearance with terrain during cruise flight. Factors were the existing weather conditions that included low ceilings, snow, obscuration, and the mountainous, rising terrain. Full narrative available
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