Scenic flight ends in fatal crash

This June 2010 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 Arrow. Injuries: 4 Fatal. Location: Dixon, Mont. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot and three passengers were on a sightseeing flight in mountainous terrain. The pilot had about 100 hours of total flight time, of which 30 were in the Arrow.

On the day of the accident, the plane headed north over a national forest, and then turned south. The last radar return indicated that the airplane was at an altitude about 300 feet AGL at an MSL altitude of 2,800 feet and flying up a river. Witnesses reported seeing a blue and white single-engine airplane matching the paint scheme of the accident airplane flying low over the river about the same time as the last radar return.

The fire-damaged wreckage was located 4.5 miles south of the river at an elevation of 4,600 feet MSL in mountainous terrain. The accident scene was confined to the immediate vicinity of the wreckage. The configuration of the wreckage was consistent with a vertical descent and ground impact.

Examination of the airframe and engine found no pre-impact malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed and aircraft control while maneuvering, resulting in an aerodynamic stall and collision with mountainous terrain.

For more information: NTSB Identification: WPR10FA330



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