This June 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: Cessna 150. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Rockwall, Texas. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The pilot had a history of right shoulder pain that he intermittently treated with prescription narcotic medication. He did not wear the shoulder harness in the airplane because it exacerbated the pain. The pilot’s shoulder pain and treatment for it had not been disclosed to the FAA.
Shortly after takeoff, the engine lost power and crashed in a field, ending up on its back.
Examination of the airplane and flight controls revealed no anomalies. The signatures on both propeller blades were consistent with little or no power at the time of impact. Corrosion in the carburetor was indicative of the presence of continuous moisture in the carburetor. The local temperature was recorded as 32°C and the dew point was recorded as 22°C, conditions conducive for carburetor icing.
The pilot was not wearing his shoulder harness at the time of the accident. Investigators noted that his fatal injuries likely resulted from impact with the instrument panel/control yoke, and would have been less probable had the harness been worn.
In addition, toxicology testing suggested that the pilot had used narcotic medication on one or both of the two nights prior to the accident.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain aircraft control following a loss of engine power due to contamination in the carburetor. Contributing the severity of the accident was the pilot’s failure to utilize his shoulder harness.
For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB identification: CEN09FA364.