This November 2008 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: Beech Debonair. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Homosassa Springs, Fla. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The pilot, who held multi-engine and instrument ratings, had logged 1,058 hours, including 18.7 hours in actual instrument conditions. The passenger also was a private pilot who had logged about 130 hours. The day of the accident the pilot contacted the St. Petersburg Flight Service Station at 8:52 a.m., 1:08 p.m., and 5:01 p.m. local time. Each time, he requested an abbreviated weather briefing and was told of embedded thunderstorms and convective activity along the route of flight.
He was also told that there was a tornado watch in effect for central and southern Florida. After amending the IFR flight plan takeoff time three times, the pilot was cleared to take off from runway 36 at 5:30. The flight was handed off to Jacksonville Center. The controller provided information on the moderate and heavy precipitation along the route for the next 100 miles. The pilot requested to deviate to avoid the weather. He asked for “any holes” left or right of the flight path. The controller informed him that the moderate to heavy precipitation was solid for 200 miles.
About 10 minutes after the initial contact with the controller, the pilot asked, “How much further does it look for us?…Getting bumped around pretty bad here.” The controller advised that they were in moderate precipitation for the next 30 miles, and advised the pilot of what they could expect. The pilot acknowledged the transmission.
The airplane then began a descending turn to the right. At that time, satellite weather imagery depicted a line of clouds along a front and over the last radar hit consisting of nimbostratus to embedded cumulonimbus clouds with level 3 to 4 intensity echoes. After about five minutes, the controller informed the pilot that they were in a patch with no precipitation and again briefed him on what to expect for the remainder of the flight. The pilot never acknowledged the transmission and no further transmissions were received.
About 30 seconds later, with the flight over the Gulf of Mexico and on a southeast heading at approximately 5,000 feet MSL, radar contact was lost. The main wreckage was never located, however, some personal items and a small amount of debris from the airplane were found floating on the surface of the water near the last recorded radar return.
Probable cause: The continued flight into known adverse weather conditions.
For more information: NTSB.gov