Aircraft: Cessna 172. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Savannah, Ga. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The accident happened in night IFR conditions as the pilot was attempting an ILS approach to a northbound runway.
The pilot received his instrument rating about six months before the accident, at which time he reported about 189 hours of total flight time, including about 43 hours of instrument and 21 hours of night pilot-in-command flight time.
The air traffic controller issued a series of radar vectors to the pilot to guide him to the localizer course. However, after the controller cleared the pilot to intercept the localizer, the airplane instead continued across the localizer course.
The pilot initiated a 270° turn to the south, crossed the localizer course, and then turned back toward the localizer course again.
The controller observed that the airplane was in a descent and queried the pilot on his altitude. The pilot replied that he was “…trying to recover.” Radio and radar contact were then lost.
The airplane crashed in a salt marsh south of the airport. The wreckage was extremely fragmented.
Investigators determined the Cessna hit at high power.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain airplane control while operating in night, instrument meteorological conditions, due to spatial disorientation.
NTSB Identification: ERA13FA062
This November 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.