March 21, 1985

Beaver Creek Ski Area

Pilot was a local Eagle Resident.   Search started the night of the 21st, when he failed to arrive at Eagle Airport.   There had been one report of a low flying plane over Avon. Search took several days. Civil Air Patrol, Pitkin Air Rescue, and Vail Mountain Rescue participated in the Search. HH-53 and C-130 were brought in from Kirland Air Force Base in New Mexico to assist. Wreckage was spotted by a ski area employee who was shoveling snow off the roof of a snowmaking building. Wreckage was located just off the ski area, in heavy timber.
NTSB Identification: DEN85FA102 For details, refer to NTSB microfiche number 29416A

Accident occurred MAR-21-85 at VAIL, CO
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-181, registration:
N8359B
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

THE PLT DID NOT OBTAIN A WX BRIEFING, FILE A FLIGHT PLAN OR REFUEL THE ACFT PRIOR TO DEPARTING FOR EAGLE COLORADO. THE ACFT DEPARTED AT 1800 UNDER VFR COND. THE PLT REPORTED OVER MINTURN CO AT 2019. WITNESSES AT VAIL CO STATED THAT THE WX COND WERE POOR FROM 2000 TO 2045 WITH HEAVY WET SNOW FALLING AND VISIBILITY OF 100 FT OR LESS. ONE CALLED IT A BLIZZARD. ANOTHER WITNESS SAW A PLANE ABOUT THIS TIME AT LOW ALT JUST OVER THE RIDGE BEING BURRETED BY THE WWND AND LABORING AT HIGH POWER. THERE WERE NO WITNESSES TO THE ACC. ABOUT AN HOUR BEFORE THE ACC THE PLT HAD REQUESTED WX BY RADIO. THE WX THEN WAS REPORTED AS CEILINGS LOWERING WITH MT TOPS OBSCURED, WX DETERIORATING. THE FLT ACKNOWLEDGED THE REPORT AT 1920. HE REQUESTED WX AGAIN AT 2019. THE EAGLE FSS GAVE THE WX FOR EAGLE AND THE PLT ACKNOWLEDGED. THERE WERE NO FURTHER RADIO COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE PLT.

Probable Cause

VFR flight into IMC..Inadvertent..Pilot in command
Judgment..Poor..Pilot in command

Contributing Factors

Refueling..Not maintained..Pilot in command