NTSB Identification: CHI06FA275.
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Accident occurred Thursday, August 24, 2006 in Kulm, ND
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/30/2008
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-140, registration: N9714W
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 non-instrument rated private pilot departed on a cross-country flight into an area of forecast instrument meteorological conditions with widely scattered thunderstorms, rain, fog and mist. The pilot did not request, nor was he provided any weather briefing services prior to or during the accident flight. Additionally, no flight plan information was filed for the accident airplane within 24 hours of the accident. According to aircraft radar track data, the accident airplane was cruising 200 - 500 feet above ground level while en route to the planned destination. Weather Surveillance Radar data for the area showed a mixture of thunderstorms and rain showers scattered along the planned route of flight. The aircraft radar track data was plotted on a weather radar image for the corresponding time period. This composite image showed the last two aircraft beacon returns were 3 to 5 miles northwest of a level-three thunderstorm. The data indicated that the convective cell was moving toward the northeast and intensifying around the accident time. Instrument meteorological conditions with light to moderate turbulence were associated with the convective cell. The accident site was located about 1.5 miles southeast of the last recorded aircraft beacon return. Examination of the recovered wreckage revealed no evidence of a pre-impact mechanical malfunction. A review of the airframe, engine and propeller records found no history of unresolved airworthiness issues.

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

The non-instrument rated pilot's continued flight into instrument meteorological conditions which resulted in his inadvertent encounter with a thunderstorm and his loss of aircraft control. A factor to the accident was the thunderstorm.

Full narrative available

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