Witnesses reported observing the pilot taxi the airplane from inside his hangar and depart. For several minutes, the Piper PA 28 maneuvered at a low altitude and high airspeed.
Witnesses then observed the airplane make a steep bank turn, descend, and hit terrain about five miles east of the airport in Brighton, Colo.
The pilot’s wife had reported to local law enforcement that she believed he had committed suicide.
The pilot’s wife reported that she had recently informed him that she wanted a divorce and was purchasing another home.
She added that, about five years earlier, the pilot had told her that if she ever left him, he would fly his airplane into the ground and kill himself.
Although the wreckage was significantly fragmented, no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures of the airframe or engine were noted that would have precluded normal operation.
The medical examiner determined that the pilot’s manner of death was “suicide.”
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause as the pilot’s intentional descent into the terrain.
NTSB Identification: CEN15FA101
This January 2015 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.