This March 2009 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: Grumman Yankee. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Golden, N.M. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The private pilot and passenger were commuting to work by air in the dark. Relatives stated that the pilot was familiar with the route of flight. The airplane was not equipped to fly in instrument weather conditions and there was no evidence found indicating the pilot had obtained a weather briefing prior to takeoff. One witness described light rain falling at the departure airfield 30 minutes before the airplane departed. A second witness, who was driving along the airplane’s intended route of flight, saw the plane depart and described the weather deteriorating from light rain to snow as she drove towards the accident site.
The post-accident autopsy detected ethanol in postmortem urine and blood specimens consistent with impairment from the effects of alcohol at the time of the accident.
Probable cause: The pilot’s continued visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions. Contributing to the accident were the pilot’s recent use of alcohol and his subsequent impairment.
For more information: NTSB.gov