NTSB Identification: CHI06FA094.
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Accident occurred Monday, March 20, 2006 in Branson, MO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/29/2007
Aircraft: Piper PA34-200T, registration: N21RR
Injuries: 4 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 impacted a transmission wire, single-story storage building, and terrain, while attempting to return to the departure airport after takeoff. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airport manager reported that the accident airplane's takeoff appeared to be normal. After departure, the accident pilot was unable to establish radio communication with air traffic control (ATC). The controller described the airplane's transmissions as "weak and unreadable." Communications were subsequently relayed through a second aircraft on the ground at the departure airport waiting for a takeoff clearance. The accident pilot declared an emergency approximately 3 minutes after takeoff; however, he did not stated the nature of the emergency. Witnesses in the vicinity of the airport reported seeing the airplane in-flight prior to the accident. Two witnesses stated that they saw the airplane exit the clouds at a high rate of descent before it leveled off. One of them noted that the airplane's flight path was steady. Both of the witnesses lost sight of the airplane behind a ridgeline. Another witness reported the airplane flew past her residence, located on a ridge south of the airport at an "exceptionally low" altitude. She added that the engines were at a "very, very high throttle" setting. Regarding weather conditions at the time, the witness reported that it "was just like a big cloud over Branson," and that she could not see the city at the time. An off-duty airport firefighter, reported that he saw the airplane shortly before the accident. He stated that it appeared to be in normal flight, with the exception that it was low. He added that he didn't hear anything unusual and the propellers were turning. He reported that it was approximately 50 feet above ground level (agl) when it appeared to "stop in mid air," the airplane's tail "spun around" and then it "dropped straight down." He responded to the accident site but was unable to assist the occupants. A post accident fire subsequently consumed most of the aircraft and the storage building. The post accident airframe and engine examinations did not reveal any anomalies associated with a pre impact failure. Both engine propeller assemblies had separated from their respective engine crankshafts, and were located at the accident site. The fracture surfaces exhibited 45-degree shear planes consistent with torsional overload failures. The post accident fire consumed the left vacuum pump. The right vacuum pump exhibited thermal damage, however, upon disassembly, the rotor and vanes were intact. Ceilings at the accident airport were estimated at 400 - 800 feet agl, with the surface visibilities at 1 - 3 miles. Routine weather observations were not available for the accident airport.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's failure to maintain sufficient airspeed, which resulted in an inadvertent stall/spin while maneuvering to return to the departure airport for landing after declaring an emergency for unspecified reasons. Additional factors were the low cloud ceiling (instrument conditions), the low altitude at the time of the inadvertent stall, the residential power transmission wire and the storage building. Full narrative available
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