NTSB Identification: CEN14FA224
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, April 27, 2014 in Highmore, SD
Aircraft: PIPER PA 32R-300, registration: N8700E
Injuries: 4 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 April 27, 2014, at 2116 central daylight time, a Piper PA-32R-300 airplane, N8700E, was destroyed when it impacted the blade of a wind turbine 11 miles south of Highmore, South Dakota. The commercial pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from Hereford Municipal Airport (KHRX), Hereford, Texas, approximately 1700.

According to officials with the Federal Aviation Administration, the airplane was reported missing by a concerned family member when the airplane did not arrive in Gettysburg, South Dakota, on the evening of April 27, 2014. The wreckage of the airplane was located by members of the Hyde County Fire Department and the Hyde County Sheriff's department around 0330 on the morning of April 28, 2014.

The wreckage of the airplane was scattered in a radius surrounding the base of a wind turbine. The airplane was fragmented. One turbine blade exhibited impact damage and was broken into several large pieces, several of which remained attached to the turbine nacelle. The remaining two turbine blades exhibited impact damage.

The closest official weather observation station was Pierre Regional Airport (KPIR), Pierre, South Dakota, located 37 miles west of the accident location. The routine aviation weather report (METAR) for KPIR, issued at 2124, reported wind 010 degrees at 19 knots, visibility 10 miles, sky condition broken clouds at 1,000 feet, overcast at 1,600 feet, temperature 06 degrees Celsius (C), dew point temperature 05 degrees C, altimeter 29.37 inches, remarks, ceiling variable between 800 and 1,200 feet.

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