NTSB Identification: ANC06FA089.
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Accident occurred Thursday, July 06, 2006 in Manley Hot Spng, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/29/2007
Aircraft: Piper PA-28, registration: N9026W
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 solo, non-certificated pilot was conducting a VFR personal cross-country flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the airplane broke apart in-flight. The pilot was bound for an airstrip near his work, about 65 miles north-northeast of the departure airport. An FAA inspector who spoke to the accident pilot the morning of the flight, said the weather at the departure airport was marginal VFR, with horizontal visibility as little as 100 feet along the road to the airport, and the peaks and ridges obscured by low clouds. The area weather forecast included thunderstorms and high winds. The airplane's wreckage was located about 12 miles west-southwest of the destination airport. A helicopter pilot transiting the area on the morning of the accident said he had to navigate around a large dark cell. He said other areas he flew through had low clouds, poor visibility, and rain showers, with the mountain tops and ridges obscured by clouds. According to the pilot's father, due to the weather, the pilot initially decided make the 3 hour drive, but returned, saying he thought he could make the 20 minute flight. No personal flight records were discovered for the pilot. According to FAA records, the pilot obtained a Student Pilot/Medical Certificate on May 7, 2003. No further certificate application was made to the FAA, and no additional certificates were issued. The father said the pilot had taken some primary flight instruction from a relative who was a certificated flight instructor, and he was told the pilot finished his flight instruction out of the area. The airplane's maintenance log book indicates the last annual inspection was on May 10, 2003. The wreckage was on a steep slope in a mountainous area. The wings, tail, and fuselage were separated from each other, and the wreckage was dispersed south to north, over an area 600-800 feet long, and 300-400 feet wide, consistent with an in-flight breakup. The fuselage was farthest to the north, and highest up the slope. There were smaller components scattered about the hillside in all directions. At the fuselage impact site there was an impact crater, and the engine had separated from the fuselage. The propeller had chord-wise scratches, leading-edge gouging, and torsional twisting. The fuselage was extensively crushed. In separate areas, 300-400 feet down slope from the fuselage, were the left and right wings. The right wing had separated from the fuselage near the wing root. The left wing had separated outboard of the main landing gear. The separation of the wings was consistent with a pilot-induced, positive stress overload.

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

The pilot's continued cruise flight into known adverse weather conditions, his failure to maintain aircraft control while maneuvering, and his exceeding the design stress limits of the airplane, which resulted in an in-flight break-up. Factors associated with the accident were clouds and obscuration.

Full narrative available

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