Lack of IFR proficiency kills four

Aircraft: Beech Baron. Injuries: Four fatal. Location: Topeka, Kan. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The private pilot, who held multi-engine and instrument ratings, had logged 438 hours, including 11 hours in actual instrument conditions. However, since passing his initial instrument proficiency check on Nov. 10, 2010, he had logged just 0.7 hours of instrument time.

The pilot was cleared for a localizer approach to the airport in instrument conditions. He overshot the final approach course and decided to perform a missed approach. While climbing during the missed approach, he requested and was cleared to fly a GPS approach to the airport. He was maneuvering in IMC to set up for the GPS approach when the plane crashed and burned.

Crush angles on fragmented pieces of the airplane indicated that it hit the ground in a left descending turn at high speed. Radar data showed the airplane maneuvering north-northeast of the airport in a left descending turn before it disappeared from radar.

The weather conditions at the airport at the time of the accident were reported as a 500-foot overcast ceiling and 10 miles visibility. Investigators determined it is likely that that the pilot became disoriented while maneuvering in IMC to set up for the GPS approach and lost control of the airplane.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain control while maneuvering in IMC. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s minimal experience flying in actual instrument conditions.

NTSB Identification: CEN11FA302

This April 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.

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