NTSB Identification: DEN06LA050.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Monday, March 20, 2006 in Emporia, KS
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/29/2006
Aircraft: Piper PA-23-250, registration: N331FC
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Prior to departure, the pilot obtained a weather briefing from a flight service station. At the start of the briefing conversation, the briefer asked the pilot if he was going to take the "anti-icing" equipped airplane for the proposed flight. The pilot responded, "Hopefully." The briefer informed the pilot "there's all kinds of stuff going on out there today, looks like you're going to need [anti-icing equipped airplane]. The briefer told the pilot to expect ice, instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions, and turbulence along the intended route of flight. The briefer informed the pilot the weather consisted of rime ice, mix clouds, and precipitation, which included mist, snow, sleet, and rain. The briefer stated the current freezing level at the departure airport was 1,500 feet agl, to which the pilot stated, "Alright." The briefer inquired whether the pilot had an alternate airport, the pilot responded, "no." According to air traffic control communications, shortly after takeoff, the airplane climbed to 4,000 feet and the controller identified the airplane on radar. The pilot informed the controller the airplane was accumulating "very little ice", and he requested an altitude of 6,000 feet. The controller cleared the pilot to 6,000 feet, and shortly thereafter, the pilot requested an altitude of 3,000, because the airplane would not climb. The controller cleared the airplane to 3,200 feet, which was the minimum en route altitude for the area. The pilot then requested to divert to a nearby airport. The pilot requested the weather for the airport and stated he could hardly keep altitude because the airplane "had a lot of ice." The controller reported to the pilot that radar contact was lost below 3,200 feet, at which the pilot responded, "can't find the approach plates for [airport], hardly hold altitude at 3,200 feet, losing altitude." The controller then asked, "Are you picking up ice?" The pilot responded, "Lot of ice." The pilot inquired whether he could descend and the controller cleared the pilot to descend at his discretion. The controller asked the pilot if he could navigate an approach to the airport, and the pilot responded, "No sir, I'm going down." During an attempted forced landing, the airplane impacted a tree, and came to rest upright in a field approximately 4 miles southeast of the airport. In an interview after the accident, the pilot reported no anomalies with the airplane's deice equipment. The pilot stated it was somewhat difficult to see the extent of the ice accumulation because the flight occurred prior to sunrise. Examination of the airplane revealed no anomalies with the airframe, systems and engines.

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

the pilot's attempted flight into adverse weather conditions and improper in-flight planning which resulted in loss of control and subsequent impact with trees. Contributing factors were the pilot's delayed remedial action, the icing and dark night conditions.

Full narrative available

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