Aircraft: Cessna Cardinal. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: North Vernon, Ind. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: Before departing on the accident flight, the 458-hour pilot, who did not have an instrument rating, obtained several weather briefings, learning that instrument meteorological conditions prevailed along his route of flight.
The pilot took off. When the airplane was at an altitude of 7,800 feet MSL, he requested VFR flight following.
A short time later the pilot acknowledged instructions to contact air route traffic control center. No further communications were received from the pilot.
Radar data showed the airplane in a gradual descent from 7,800 to 2,800 feet MSL, before radar contact was lost.
The post-accident review of weather and radar data indicated that the airplane descended into instrument meteorological conditions near the destination airport.
The wreckage distribution was consistent with a high-speed impact. Investigators determined that, given the adverse weather conditions present at the time of the accident, it is likely that the pilot experienced spatial disorientation and lost control of the airplane.
Probable cause: The non-instrument-rated pilot’s decision to fly into known instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in spatial disorientation and loss of airplane control.
NTSB Identification: CEN12FA143
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.