The non-instrument-rated pilot rented the airplane in Canada and filed a VFR flight plan for a cross-country flight to a destination in Canada. The flight was not approved to leave Canada.
The flight plan was subsequently closed and investigators could not determine the flight’s last departure point and time. The wreckage of the Cessna 172 was found on a runway at an airport in Nashville, Tennessee, the following afternoon during an airfield inspection. The pilot was killed in the crash.
A review of airport radar data indicated that the airplane entered the Nashville area at night almost nine hours after its initial departure time and it circled the airport for about two hours before it crashed on the approach end of the runway.
Instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions, which included horizontal visibility of 1/4 statute mile and vertical visibility of 100 feet above ground level, existed about the time of the airplane’s arrival until it crashed.
A review of the pilot’s health records, which included a mental health report provided by the pilot’s parole officer, revealed that he had a history of repeated convictions for criminal activity and that he had developed a significant interest in a celebrity who lived in Nashville.
Although the medical records did not include a specific psychiatric diagnosis, the prior criminal actions and impulsive behavior are consistent with antisocial personality disorder, which likely led to his impetuous decision to fly to Nashville.
It is likely that, because of his impetuous decision, the pilot was unaware of the IFR conditions in Nashville until he arrived in the area and that, because he was not instrument rated, he was unable to safely land the airplane with no visual contact with the runway.
Toxicological testing of the pilot’s blood revealed significantly elevated levels of ethanol, indicating that he drank alcohol before the accident. The alcohol likely further impaired the pilot’s judgment and his ability to fly the airplane safely in IFR conditions.
The NTSB determined the probable cause of this accident as the non-instrument-rated pilot’s continued visual flight into night IFR conditions, which resulted in a collision with the runway during an attempted approach to land. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s mental state, his impairment due to alcohol, and his decision to operate the airplane from Canada to the United States without the owner’s permission and without proper clearances for the flight.
NTSB Identification: ERA14FA027
This October 2013 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.