This April 2007 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.
Aircraft: Piper Cherokee.
Location: Viburnum, Mo.
Injuries: 3 Fatal.
Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: Before the flight the pilot obtained a weather briefing that included warnings about instrument meteorological conditions, icing and turbulence. The pilot had about 75 hours instrument flight time, including 5.7 hours in actual instrument conditions. One month before the accident he had completed an instrument proficiency check. In the six month period before the accident flight, he logged 1.5 hours simulated instrument flight time, three instrument approaches and one holding procedure. He also logged 0.4 hours actual instrument time separate from the IPC.
The airplane was in cruise flight at 5,000 feet msl in instrument conditions when all radio and radar communications were lost.
Communications had been routine to that point, and the pilot had not informed air traffic control of any difficulties regarding the flight. Witnesses reported hearing an airplane engine, and saw what appeared to be one or two objects exit the clouds near their location. The wreckage was found the next day about one-quarter mile from the final radar data point.
The post-accident examination did not reveal any evidence of a structural failure or instrument or engine malfunction. Because of the lack of any physical evidence, investigators determined that the most likely cause of the accident was the pilot lost control of the airplane while flying in instrument meteorological conditions that included icing and turbulence.
Probable cause: The pilot’s loss of aircraft control during cruise flight in instrument meteorological conditions. Factors contributing to the accident were turbulence and icing conditions.
For more information: ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20070420X00440&key=1.