This June 2009 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.
Aircraft: Dragonfly II. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Arthur, Neb. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: Advisories were in effect for IFR conditions. There was no record of the pilot obtaining a pre-flight weather briefing, although comments to an individual at the departure airport indicated that the pilot was aware of marginal weather conditions along his intended route of flight. The airplane took off and headed to the southwest. Approximately 48 minutes later, the airplane abruptly turned to the northeast. It was at an altitude of approximately 400 feet AGL when it entered a left turn. The airplane flew three complete 360° turns, each with a successively smaller turn radius. It gained approximately 1,200 feet in altitude from the time of the initial course reversal until the third turn. The airplane then entered a descending right turn and crashed in a marsh.
The post-accident examination did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a mechanical failure. Instrument weather conditions prevailed at the accident site, with local cloud ceilings as low as 600 feet AGL. In addition, an autopsy revealed the pilot had recently used an over-the-counter antihistamine with sedating and impairing effects.
Probable cause: The pilot’s continued visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s impairment due to the use of a over-the-counter medication with sedative effects and spatial disorientation.
For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB identification: CEN09LA350.