December 14, 1983

Mt. Democrat - Retired Air Force

Search was conducted during December of 1983, without sucess. Hikers discovered the wreckage on July 18, 1984, on the Side of Mt Democrat. Park County Sheriff & Coroner, Summit County Resuce Group, Alpine Rescue Group, and Vail Mountain Rescue Group all participated in the recovery. These three bodies were the start of the Vail Mountain Rescue Group's 8 bodies in 8 days.
DEN84FA225
NTSB Identification: DEN84FA225 For details, refer to NTSB microfiche number 26078A

Accident occurred DEC-14-83 at ALMA, CO
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32, registration: N47403
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

THE PLT, HIS BROTHER & HIS SISTER-IN-LAW WERE ON A FLT TO ATTEND HIS MOTHER'S FUNERAL. BEFORE TAKING OFF, THE PILOT RECEIVED A WX BRIEFING & WAS ADVISED THAT VFR FLT WAS NOT RECOMMENDED. THE PLT THEN ASKED FOR WX REPORTS FOR A SOUTHERLY ROUTE & HE WAS ADVISED THAT THE MOUNTAIN TOPS WERE OBSCURED ON THAT ROUTE. HE THEN INDICATED THAT HE WOULD TRY & THAT MAYBE THE WEATHER WOULD CLEAR ENOUGH FOR HIM TO GET THRU. SUBSEQUENTLY, THE ACFT CRASHED ON THE SIDE OF MT DEMOCRAT, A 14,286 FT MOUNTAIN, AT THE 13,800 FT LEVEL. THERE WAS EVIDENCE THAT THE ACFT IMPACTED IN NEAR LEVEL FLT. NO PREIMPACT PART FAILURE OR MALFUNCTION WAS FOUND THAT WOULD HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE ACCIDENT. THE AREA FORECAST CALLED FOR MOUNTAINS & HIGHER TERRAIN TO BE OCCASIONALLY OBSCURED IN CLOUDS & PRECIP; ROCKY MOUNTAINS 3000 TO 6000 FT THRU 20,000 FT WITH OCCASIONAL CEILINGS BELOW 1000 FT & VISIBILITY BELOW 3 MILES IN SNOW & FOG.

Probable Cause

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

Contributing Factors

Flight into known adverse weather..Initiated..Pilot in command
Self-induced pressure..Pilot in command
Terrain condition..High terrain
Weather condition..Clouds
Weather condition..Low ceiling
Terrain condition..Mountainous/hilly
Terrain condition..Rising