June 7, 2012, Lake Wales, Fla. Pilatus PC-12/47


The airplane departed controlled flight and broke up at about 1235 Eastern time. Instrument conditions prevailed at the airplane’s cruising altitude and location; an IFR flight plan was in effect. The airplane was substantially damaged. The private pilot and five passengers were fatally injured.

At about 1232, ATC advised the pilot of a large weather area consisting of moderate, heavy and extreme echoes. After consultation, the pilot was cleared to deviate around the weather on a 320-degree heading at FL250. Between 1232:37 and 1233:49, the airplane exhibited several small altitude excursions and entered a right turn. By 1234:01, the airplane had descended to 22,500 feet msl. Between 1234:01 and 1234:37, the airplane descended from 22,500 to 10,700 feet and turned to a southerly heading. The final radar return depicted the airplane at 1300 feet.

A witness heard a sound he attributed to a propeller feathering or later described as flutter of a flight control surface, followed by a sound he described as an energy release. He ran outside and saw the airplane, noting by its silhouette that parts were missing. He videotaped the descent, which he reported as a spin with consistent engine sounds and no forward movement. Preliminary examination of the wreckage revealed sections of both wings plus the horizontal stabilizer and elevator were separated.


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