About a week ago, a Piper PA-30 crashed into a residential area just a few miles from where I live. An engine was found to have landed a 0.24 nm from the impact site. Sadly, the pilot of the aircraft was killed. Thankfully, however, in spite of the crash occurring in a crowded subdivision, nobody on the ground was injured.
Now, to the heart of my query:
The NTSB preliminary report indicated an in-flight breakup of the plane. There was not an active thunderstorm in the area, but with 30 minutes or so a small cell had developed (source: me, I do live nearby). Are smaller aircraft subject to atmospheric effects that could cause an in-flight breakup? If so, what sort of atmospheric conditions, assuming a skilled pilot who wouldn't purposefully fly into known bad conditions, would be necessary to cause such catastrophic damage to a small craft like a PA-30?