NTSB Identification: DFW08FA212
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, August 24, 2008 in Yuma, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/12/2010
Aircraft: PIPER PA-24-250, registration: N5476P
Injuries: 3 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 pilot was taking two adult family members to the destination airport, which he had regularly flown to for years. Two witnesses at the airport said that it was "very foggy" with "no ceiling" and that the heaviest fog began approximately 20 to 30 minutes before the accident. The estimated visibility in the fog was approximately 1/2 mile. Witnesses at the airport said that they were inside their office when they heard an airplane coming toward them from the west. The witnesses ran outside after the airplane flew over their office "very low and very fast." The witnesses could not see the airplane, but heard it continue flying away from the airport to the east and heard a change in the sound that indicated "the plane was making a hard turn." Approximately ten seconds after hearing the change in sound, and while the witnesses were looking toward the sound of the airplane, they heard a "loud thump" or "thud" and almost immediately saw a ball of fire. No precrash anomalies were noted with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation. The pilot was rated, and the airplane was certified, for instrument-flight-rules flight, although no flight plan was filed. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Denver air route traffic control center provided visual-flight-rules flight following to the pilot during the flight. The center's last radio contact with the pilot was at 0810, when the flight was approximately 20 miles southwest of the destination airport, after the pilot had terminated flight following. The investigation was unable to determine whether the pilot requested a formal weather briefing prior to the flight.
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 encounter with instrument meteorological conditions. Full narrative available
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