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Sat, Jul 09, 2005

NTSB Closes Book On Missing Tri-Pacer

Still Missing Three Months Later

With no witnesses and, more importantly, no wreckage to go on, the NTSB Thursday closed its investigation into the disappearance of N3766A.

The 1954 Piper Tri-Pacer disappeared April 7th on a flight from Kremmling, CO, to Fremont County Airport with two men on board. Both 81-year old Claiborne Courtright and his 77-year old passenger, William Duffy, were pilots.

In its factual report, the NTSB wrote:

On April 7, 2005, at approximately 1430 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA-22-135, N3766A, piloted by a commercial pilot, departed Mc Elroy Airfield (20V), Kremmling, Colorado, and did not arrive at the destination airport. The airplane is presumed to have crashed and is destroyed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed over Colorado from the time of departure to 4 hours after the time of departure. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. The commercial pilot and private pilot rated passenger on board are presumed to be fatally injured. The airplane departed 20V approximately 1430 and was en route to Fremont County Airport (1V6), Canon City, Colorado.

According to family members, the airplane departed 1V6 between 1000 and 1100. An airport employee in Kremmling reported that the airplane arrived approximately 1245. The pilot fueled the right fuel tank with 14.65 gallons. The accident pilot spoke with the airport employee for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. During their conversation, the pilot discussed flying through Hoosier Pass and then continuing south to 1V6 due to the winds that were increasing in velocity. The airplane departed Kremmling between 1430 and 1500. The airplane was reported missing on the evening of April 7, 2005, by concerned family members. An ALNOT (search and rescue alert notice) was issued at 1115 on April 7. The ALNOT was cancelled on April 18 and the search suspended.

At the bottom line, there's simply nothing more the NTSB could do. The finding of probable cause states simply:

Undetermined. Missing aircraft.

Resigned to the fact their husbands are lost, both widows told local reporters they're somewhat comforted by the knowledge that both men loved to fly -- and died doing the thing they loved best.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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