Intoxicated pilot crashes

Aircraft: Cessna 150. Injuries: 1 Serious. Location: Denmark, Wis. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: During a flight before the accident flight, the cockpit lighting failed and the pilot made an unscheduled landing at an airport. Later, a witness saw the pilot walking back to the airport with a 12-pack of beer.

The pilot explained that he was going to drink beer and sleep in the airplane until morning.

However, he fueled the plane at a self-service fuel pump and departed for his home airport later that night.

Witnesses near the accident site reported seeing an airplane maneuvering at a low altitude with the exterior lights turning on and off. The airplane crashed into trees, coming to rest upside down.

Near the airplane investigators found an empty 12-pack beer container with five unopened beer cans, two empty cans and one beer can in a beverage holder. The pilot told investigators that after the accident, he remained in the inverted airplane and drank several beers. The pilot then decided to exit the airplane.

Subsequent testing revealed that the pilot had a blood alcohol level of 0.138 g/100 ml. The legal limit for operating an airplane is 0.04 g/100 ml.

The post-accident examination of the airplane revealed that the bulb for the interior lighting had burned out. The pilot reported that he did not have interior lighting and was attempting to restore the interior lighting by turning the exterior lighting on and off.

He also stated that his attempt to retrieve a flashlight led to an unusual attitude that resulted in the crash.

Probable cause: The pilot’s loss of control due to his alcohol impairment. Contributing to the accident was his decision to fly at night with a known interior lighting malfunction.

NTSB Identification: CEN12LA133

This January 2012 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.


  1. Tom says

    The 12 pack would be his downfall,
    As he cranked up the plane that night,
    Not a sleep apnea problem at all,
    Not even the non working lights.

  2. Bluestar says

    Come on, give the guy a break, after such and ordeal, one must down a few beer to ease the humility and then the frustration of a plane that just won’t work right!
    Damn them bulbs

    • RudyH says

      Well…ALCOHOLISM wise….sure would have medical implications…symptoms are all there…drink alcohol….got trouble….social drinkers don’t routinely blow down a twelve pack when some responsible function is to ensue. Hardest cases to detect these are…until…After the alcohol related mishap occurs……

  3. Bosco says

    I usually don’t get to laugh when reading these stories but this one did the trick. I’ve always wondered if there was a way to drink beer inverted.

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