Pilot loses control in IFR conditions

Aircraft: Cessna 172. Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious. Location: North Myrtle Beach, S.C. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The private instrument-rated pilot had logged approximately 388 hours, including 21 hours of actual instrument experience. He was practicing instrument approaches at the time of the crash.

Prior to takeoff he advised an air traffic controller that he would like to conduct three approaches, starting with a VOR approach. The ceiling at the airport at the time of the accident was 600 feet MSL. The minimum descent altitude for the approach was 560 feet MSL. The controller offered the pilot the option of landing or executing a low approach at the completion of the approach. The pilot did not report to the air traffic controller the actual altitude of the base of the overcast layer. He elected to execute the low approach and was issued a frequency change, which he acknowledged.

During the missed approach, the pilot was then directed to proceed direct to the VOR, hold northeast of the VOR, to maintain 3,000 feet MSL, and to advise when he was ready to commence the next approach. The pilot then transmitted to the controller that he had gotten himself “a little out of whack” and that he was “just trying to straighten it out.” Review of radar data revealed that, during this transmission, the airplane had begun to turn right and continued turning right for about 150° before radar contact was lost. The airplane crashed into a tree, a travel trailer, and a pickup truck, fatally injuring the pilot and one occupant of the trailer and seriously injuring the other occupant of the trailer.

The environmental conditions that existed during the flight and the pilot’s actions and responses indicate that he likely experienced spatial disorientation.

Probable cause: The pilot’s loss of control during a missed approach due to spatial disorientation.

NTSB Identification: ERA11FA118

This January 2011 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.

Comments

  1. Vaughn S. Price says:

    His Flight Instructor obviously never gave him the most important part of instrument flying.
    What to do if you and your instruments disagree!! #1 LET GO OF THE CONTROLS #2 FOLD YOUR ARMS!! #3 USE THE RUDDER PEDALS TO HOLD THE DIRECTIONAL GYRO CENTERED ON ANY HEADING!! THEN GENTLY TAKE THE WHEEL AND RESUME YOUR COURSE!!IF THE KENNEDY WHO LOST IT OFF MARTHA’S VINEYARD HAD RECEIVED THIS INSTRUCTION HE WOULD BE ALIVE TODAY. INSTRUCTORS WHO ONLY TEACH TO THE BOOK ARE IN NEED OF SOME COMMON SENSE

    • John Wesley says:

      The problem is, like most CFIs, his probably didnt know to teach that. Volumes can be filled with the information that todays CFIs do not know, do not teach, or are simply to lazy to care about.

      Now that they are going to have to ride around much longer holding down the right seat, it is going to get a lot worse.

    • Warren Webb Jr says:

      How do you know he didn’t have a vacuum pump failure and lose the DG? Fixating or over-relying on one instrument is one of the worst things a pilot can do.

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