NTSB Identification: DFW06FA193.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, July 26, 2006 in Newellton, LA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/27/2007
Aircraft: Mooney M20J, registration: N577RS
Injuries: 2 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 single-engine airplane impacted into a cotton field following a loss of control during an in-flight encounter with a thunderstorm while on a 228-nautical mile night cross country flight. The 1,295-hour instrument rated flight instructor and student pilot were fatally injured. The flight originated under visual flight rules (VFR). While airborne the pilot observed lightning in the distance and called a Flight Service Station, via the radio, inquiring if there were any weather radar returns between their present position and their intended destination. The flight specialist responded that there was some scattered thunderstorm activity along their route and suggested the pilot deviate north in an attempt to avoid them. The flight specialist further informed the pilot of an AIRMET in effect for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) along their route of flight, with VFR flight not recommended, and that their destination airport was reporting a broken ceiling at 600-feet above ground level (AGL). The pilot acknowledged, filed, and activated an IFR flight plan to their destination via a northern route. The pilot was in communications with two Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC) during the flight. A review of ARTCC communications with the accident airplane revealed that the pilot was not provided with any weather advisories nor was he advised of the radar-depicted weather displayed on the controller's scope. According to recorded display system information, adverse weather was located along the accident airplane's flight path. The airplane entered the depicted weather while at 8,000-feet. About 19 seconds later, radar contact was lost while the accident airplane was at 4,400-feet. The airplane came to rest in an upright position. There was no post crash fire. The fuselage was found crushed downward in a manner consistent with a near vertical flat impact. The horizontal stabilizer had failed in positive (upward) while the one piece wing was found separated mid span, having failed in negative (downward). The examination revealed no pre impact anomalies with the airplane's controls or engine.

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

The pilot's continued flight into adverse weather conditions. Contributing factors were the prevailing thunderstorms, the dark night conditions, and Air Traffic Control's failure to issue hazardous weather information to the pilot.

Full narrative available

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