NTSB Identification: NYC06FA133.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, May 31, 2006 in Manahawkin, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/26/2007
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-236, registration: N48ED
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.
Prior to departing on the accident flight, the pilot contacted flight service and obtained a weather briefing. During the briefing, the pilot was advised of an AIRMET for instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) that extended across the intended route of flight, and that visual flight rules (VFR) flight was not recommended. The pilot was further advised that some of the stations along the route of flight were beginning to report VFR conditions, and that terminal area forecasts called for the weather to improve. As the pilot approached the destination airport, he contacted air traffic control, and upon hearing that the weather at his intended destination was IMC, he elected to return to his departure airport. While in the process of being radar identified, the airplane descended 1,300 feet in 4 seconds, before radar contact was lost. Witnesses observed the airplane descend out of the clouds and saw pieces of the airplane falling to the ground before it impacted trees and terrain. The outboard portions of both wings and both outboard portions of the horizontal stabilizer were located between 1,000 and 2,000 feet from the main wreckage. Examination of the fracture surfaces revealed signatures consistent with overload failure in the positive, or upward, direction. No pre-impact mechanical deficiencies with the airplane were noted. Review of visible satellite weather imagery revealed the presence of clouds along the coastal area near the accident site, and an airport 21 nautical miles southwest reported an overcast ceiling at 700 feet.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The noninstrument-rated pilot's inadvertent VFR cruise flight into instrument meteorological conditions, and his subsequent loss of aircraft control, which resulted in his exeeding the design stress limits of the airplane, and an in-flight separation of the wings and horizontal stabilizer. Full narrative available
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