NTSB Identification: CHI06FA037.
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Accident occurred Sunday, November 27, 2005 in Atlanta, NE
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/29/2006
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-140, registration: N5596F
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 airplane, piloted by a non-instrument rated private pilot, was destroyed when it impacted a radio and television tower during cruise and subsequent impact with terrain. Visual to instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was on file. Two witnesses saw the airplane flying eastbound and saw the airplane impact the tower. About 10 minutes prior to the accident, the tower site manager inspected the tower for the approaching snow and found the tower's lights operational. The tower was depicted on the sectional aeronautical chart. Weather about 250 degrees magnetic and 53 nautical miles from the accident site, weather was: Wind 360 degrees 23 knots gusting to 33 knots, visibility 10 statute miles: sky condition scattered 1,400 feet, overcast 2,500 feet; temperature 2 degrees C; dew point -1 degree C; altimeter 29.33 inches of mercury; remarks peak wind 350 degrees at 33 knots at 1051 and weather about 45 degrees magnetic and 7 nautical miles from the accident site, weather was: Wind 360 degrees at 19 knots gusting to 24 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition overcast 900 feet; temperature 1 degree C; dew point -1 degree C; altimeter 29.32 inches of mercury. The airplane fuselage came to rest inverted. The tower was found on the ground folded upon itself in an accordion shape. The airplane fuselage was about one tenth of a mile from the base of the antenna on a 101-degree magnetic heading. The wings were found separated from the fuselage in a debris field that, measured from the antenna base, extended southward about three tenths of a mile on about a 171 degree heading. An on-scene investigation revealed no pre-impact anomalies. Flight control continuity was established and all breaks in control cables were consistent with overload. Engine controls were checked and continuity was established. The airspeed indicator's needle was trapped at an indication of 120 mph. The fuel selector was found in a detent and a liquid that smelled like aviation gasoline was found in the fuel selector valve. The propeller exhibited leading edge nicks and gouges. The color of a media transfer on the propeller was consistent with the aviation orange paint on the tower. The right wing exhibited a rearward semicircular crush about the outer third of the wing's leading edge. The right horizontal stabilator was torn from the empennage and the stabilator exhibited a semicircular rearward crush at its root. The trim tab for the left horizontal stabilator was torn about its midspan and the torn section remained attached to the right horizontal stabilator trim tab. The separations of the left and right wings were consistent with overload. The bottom skin of the left wing exhibited linear tearing from its leading edge to its flap about three feet outboard of its wing root. A global positioning system was installed in the airplane.

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

The non-instrument rated private pilot not maintaining clearance from the marked tower and his continued flight into adverse weather during cruise flight. Factors were the marked tower and the low ceilings present at the accident.

Full narrative available

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