Rupert, W.Va., June 13, 2004–King Air N200BE departed Summersville (W.Va.) Airport (SXL) VFR, having filed an IFR flight plan, but it struck Big Mountain at 3,475 feet in IMC before the pilots could activate the flight plan. The ATP-rated pilot and commercial copilot were killed and the aircraft was destroyed. The NTSB said the cause of the accident was the pilot’s improper decision to continue VFR flight into IMC, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain. Factors were the FAA inspector’s inadequate surveillance of the operator and a low ceiling.
The aircraft operator was involved in two prior reported weather-related accidents, both of which resulted in fatalities. (A third accident was not reported; weather was unknown.) The same FAA principal operations inspector was assigned to the operator for all four accidents, which happened over a period of 14 years. No actions were ever initiated as a result of any of the accidents.
The accident site was approximately 15 miles southeast of SXL, about midway between SXL and Greenbrier Valley Airport (LWB), Lewisburg, the planned destination. The reported weather at LWB included visibility seven miles, scattered clouds at 1,300 feet and ceiling 2,000 feet overcast.