NTSB Identification: WPR13FA070
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, December 15, 2012 in Ely, NV
Aircraft: PIPER PA-31T1, registration: N93CN
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 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.

On December 15, 2012, about 1000 Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-31T1 Cheyenne, N93CN, was substantially damaged during an in-flight breakup near Ely, Nevada. The pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot and passenger sustained fatal injuries. The cross-country personal flight departed the Falcon Field Airport, Mesa, Arizona, about 0818, with a planned destination of the Portland-Troudale Airport, Portland, Oregon. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area surrounding the accident site, and the flight was operating on a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan.

Preliminary radar and voice communication data provided by the FAA revealed the airplane departed Mesa and continued on a northerly track for about 30 minutes. The airplane then turned to northwesterly direction (around a bearing of 335 degrees magnetic) and remained at the cruise altitude of 24,000 feet mean sea level. At 0937, the airplane’s heading turned to about 320 degrees and oscillated around that bearing until the last several radar returns indicated the airplane began a descending turn to the right, with a final radar target recorded at 1000. During the last approximate 30 seconds the airplane descended from cruise altitude to 14,500 feet msl, which was the last recorded altitude. The pilot’s last radio transmission was a request for a frequency change.

The accident site was located in a canyon in the Schell Creek mountain range about 17 nautical miles (nm) southeast of Ely. The main wreckage was located at an estimated 39 degrees 05.233 minutes north latitude and 114 degrees 35.017 minutes west longitude, at an elevation of about 6,850 feet msl. The distance from Mesa (departure city) and Portland (destination city) is about 875 nm on a bearing of about 317 degrees.

The wreckage debris was scattered over an estimated 1,500-foot area of hilly terrain. At the far south parameter of the debris field was the main wreckage, with the far north area containing sections of tail skin panels. The main wreckage, which consisted of the cabin, right wing, inboard left wing, both engines, empennage, and a portion of the vertical stabilizer, came to rest inverted on a heading of 284 degrees.

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