NTSB Identification: SEA06FA036.
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Accident occurred Monday, January 02, 2006 in Heber City, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/29/2006
Aircraft: Beech 35-A33, registration: N1254Z
Injuries: 1 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 commercial pilot was making a cross-country flight in the airplane over mountainous terrain. During a pre-flight weather briefing and during two in-flight weather updates, the pilot was advised by flight service station weather briefers that VFR flight was not recommended along his route of flight. The flight was receiving VFR flight following services, and the air traffic controllers working the flight also twice advised the pilot of deteriorating weather conditions ahead along his route of flight. The pilot responded that if necessary, he would turn around. Radar and radio contact with the airplane were subsequently lost due to the mountainous terrain. Two witnesses located at different points along the intended route of flight observed the airplane flying southbound at an altitude of about 300 feet agl. The first witness, located about 16 miles north of the accident site, reported that the ceiling was about 500 feet, and there was light snow and sleet falling. The second witness, located about 4 miles north of the accident site, reported that "it was snowing hard and there was little visibility." According to local law enforcement personnel, at the time of the accident, the weather conditions in the vicinity of the accident site were "extreme" with visibility "less than 500 feet with heavy snow." Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted the ground in a right wing low attitude heading northbound, suggesting that the pilot may have been executing a 180 degree turn in an attempt to exit the weather conditions when the impact occurred. Inspection of the engine did not reveal any abnormalities that would have prevented normal operation and production of rated horsepower. Damage to the propeller was consistent with the engine producing power at impact.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's continued VFR flight into IMC and his subsequent failure to maintain terrain clearance while maneuvering resulting in an in-flight collision with terrain. Contributing factors were low ceilings, snow, and mountainous terrain. Full narrative available
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