In-flight break-up kills three

Aircraft: Beech Bonanza. Injuries: 3 Fatal. Location: Glencoe, Minn. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: There was no record of the non-instrument-rated private pilot receiving a preflight weather briefing. He was attempting to conduct the flight under VFR although the weather was IFR.

Witnesses on the ground in the area of the crash reported hearing the airplane flying from east to west but could not see it due to the low clouds and reduced visibility. Subsequently, the witnesses heard a loud crack and then the impact of the airplane with the ground.

Based upon witness statements and reported weather conditions near the accident site, investigators determined the flight encountered instrument meteorological conditions. The distribution of the wreckage was consistent with an in-flight breakup, starting with the separation of the left wing followed by the separation of the empennage. All fracture surfaces were consistent with overload failure.

Probable cause: The pilot’s continued flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in the design limits of the airplane being exceeded and an in-flight breakup.

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA196 

This March 2012 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.

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