NTSB Identification: CHI07FA305.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, September 26, 2007 in Defiance, OH
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/26/2008
Aircraft: Piper PA-32R-301T, registration: N8341G
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 airplane was in cruise flight about 7,000 feet mean sea level (msl). At 1032:27, air traffic control (ATC) instructed the pilot to descend from 7,000 feet to 3,000 feet msl, and the pilot acknowledged the descent instructions. ATC's last radar contact with the airplane was at 1032:53, and the airplane's altitude was about 6,500 feet msl. The pilot made no distress call and he did not indicate that the airplane was experiencing any mechanical difficulty. Witnesses reported hearing the airplane when it was in the clouds for about a minute with the sound of the engine getting louder and louder. When it descended out of the clouds, the airplane was in about a 45-degree nose down attitude and spinning rapidly. The oscillating engine noise grew increasingly louder as it descended, and it appeared that the airplane was missing part of one of its wings. The airplane suddenly nosed straight down and impacted the ground in a steep, nose down attitude. The left wing's fracture surfaces were consistent with an overstress fracture. The inspection of the airplane revealed no deficiencies that would have precluded normal operation. Weather radar depicted a narrow line of echoes in the vicinity of the accident site. A band of cumulus clouds was over or in the immediate vicinity of the accident site at the time of the accident with cumulonimbus type clouds to the west and southwest of the accident site. The weather radar spectrum width depicted an area of shear between 12 to 24 knots along the last known position of the accident airplane and the accident site. It indicated significant wind velocities and turbulence along the flight track.

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

The pilot's spatial disorientation when he encountered convective turbulence which resulted in a loss of control. This encounter resulted in an in-flight break up. Contributing to the accident was the convective turbulence in the clouds.

Full narrative available

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