VFR into IMC kills

This March 2010 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: Evektor Sportstar Plus. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Marysville, Ohio. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The Sport Pilot, who had logged 186 hours, departed on a cross-country flight. There was no record of him obtaining a weather briefing prior to takeoff and no flight plan was filed. Instrument meteorological conditions existed along the route of flight. Recorded radar data showed that as the airplane approached the area of IMC, it changed heading and altitude and tracked southward, which was then followed by a descending turn with increasing airspeed. The airplane crashed in a field in a nose-down attitude.

Post-accident examination of the plane revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

The pilot was taking three different medications to treat his diabetes, which would have increased his risk for impairment due to excessively low blood sugar. He had been using a medication for respiratory symptoms combining a narcotic and an antihistamine, both of which have potentially impairing effects. He also may have taken another medication containing the same antihistamine. He had been using a stimulant typically prescribed for weight loss and a sedative previously prescribed for insomnia. He was at high risk for, and had previously been noted to possibly have, obstructive sleep apnea, which can cause severe fatigue and resultant impairment.

The pilot may have been impaired or distracted by symptoms of his medical conditions or by effects of medications used to treat those conditions. The extent to which such possible impairment or distraction may have contributed to the accident is unclear. The severity of the crash made it impossible to determine the existence or absence of substantive pre-existing disease, or the determination regarding when medications may have most recently been used.

Probable cause: The pilot’s improper decision to initiate and continue a flight into instrument meteorological conditions that led to spatial disorientation and a loss of control during cruise flight.

For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: CEN10FA141



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