Aircraft: Taylorcraft BC12-D. Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious. Location: Clutier, Iowa. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to land on an unimproved airstrip he had previously used. When the field was previously used as an airstrip, the power lines were buried, but at the time of the accident the power line were now above ground and were not marked.
The airplane collided with the power lines during the approach.
The surviving passenger stated that he never saw the power lines before the airplane collided with them.
The pilot’s medical records revealed diagnoses of hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and bipolar disease. Toxicology testing showed the presence of medications consistent with the treatment of these conditions.
Although the pilot’s medical records and toxicology results indicated that the pilot had recently stopped taking some medications that could have adversely affected his performance, his bipolar disease would have had significant negative effects on cognition, including memory and executive functioning/judgment, and would have been disqualifying for a medical certification. Therefore, although it is possible that the pilot’s underlying psychiatric disease and its treatment may have affected his judgment, it is not possible to determine the extent to which it may have contributed to the accident.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to monitor, recognize, and identify obstacles on approach to landing, which resulted in an inadvertent collision with power lines. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s expectation and assumption that there were no above-ground power lines in the area.
NTSB Identification: CEN13FA078
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.