NTSB Identification: CEN11FA263
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, March 29, 2011 in Fredricktown, MO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/05/2012
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32R-300, registration: N4085F
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 airplane was reported missing and global positioning system data showed that it descended below 1,700 feet mean sea level (msl) 11 nautical miles south-southwest of the accident site. The airplane impacted rising terrain at an elevation of about 1,353 feet msl while on a north-northeasterly heading. The airplane configuration and the wreckage path were consistent with an impact while the airplane was in cruise flight. The pilot was not instrument rated, and the airplane's descent was likely the pilot's attempt at maintaining visual conditions at night by flying below a forecast ceiling. The pilot's airman medical certificate issued in 2007 had expired. He had disqualifying heart disease that had not been reported to or evaluated by the Federal Aviation Administration. The pilot's recent flight experience and the airplane's maintenance history could not be determined due to the unavailability of current logbooks. Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

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

The pilot's decision to attempt to maintain visual flight by descending below an area of deteriorating forecast weather to an altitude that did not provide adequate terrain clearance.

Full narrative available

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