NTSB Identification: DEN07FA045.
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Accident occurred Friday, January 05, 2007 in Manzanola, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/27/2007
Aircraft: Piper PA-34-200T, registration: N8231D
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.

Approximately 15 minutes after departure, the airplane encountered instrument meteorological conditions (IMC); and subsequently, the non-instrument rated private pilot lost control of the airplane and impacted snow-covered terrain. Prior to the cross-country flight, the pilot obtained three standard weather briefings, of which two were obtained on the previous day and one on the morning of the accident. The briefings included instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions along the planned route of flight. According to the briefing conversation and a statement from a friend, the pilot intended to land the airplane prior to his destination if the weather conditions were not visual flight rules (VFR). The pilot would then "wait it out" until the weather conditions improved. In addition, the pilot informed the weather briefer that "I have to be in Houston [Texas] by 7 o'clock" on the day of the accident. According to radar data, the airplane departed from the airport and was traveling on a southeasterly heading. For the first 15 minutes of the flight, the airplane maintained a level altitude and a consistent heading. For the last minute of the flight, the airplane entered a descent of 2,500 feet per minute, a climb of 3,000 fpm, and a 1,300 fpm descent, and the airplane's heading varied in several degrees. The airplane impacted the terrain in a right wing low, nose-down attitude. No anomalies were noted with the airframe and engines.

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

the pilot's failure to maintain control of the airplane after an inadvertent encounter with instrument meteorological conditions resulting in the subsequent impact with terrain. Contributing factors were the pilot's inadequate preflight planning, self-induced pressure to conduct the flight, and poor judgment.

Full narrative available

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