NTSB Identification: WPR11FA319
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 08, 2011 in Verlot, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/31/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-22-135, registration: N8721C
Injuries: 2 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 pilot departed the airport for a 198-mile cross-country flight. Weather conditions at the departure airport were visual flight rules (VFR); however, the weather along the intended route of flight varied between VFR and instrument flight rules conditions. Weather satellite imagery from about 5 minutes before the time of the accident depicted an extensive area of low stratiform clouds throughout the area. No defined convective clouds were identified along the route of flight. The satellite images showed that clouds began about 50 miles east of the accident site and increased in coverage and thickness toward the intended destination. The images also depicted that an overcast layer of stratocumulus to nimbostratus clouds obscured the accident site. An area forecast for the day of the accident included a warning that the mountains would remain mostly obscured during the morning hours. It is likely that the pilot encountered clouds and failed to maintain terrain clearance. There was no record of official weather briefings, but the pilot may have obtained an unofficial weather brief from another source for the flight. Examination of the accident site via helicopter revealed that the airplane came to rest on steep sloping terrain just below a ridge line. The wreckage was mostly consumed by fire. An on scene examination of the airplane wreckage was not conducted due to terrain conditions and the wreckage was not recovered.

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

The non-instrument rated pilot’s decision to continue visual flight into clouds and his failure to maintain clearance from terrain while maneuvering in an area of reduced visibility, low clouds, and mountain obscuration.

Full narrative available

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