The 79-year-old private pilot was making a local personal flight in his Piper PA 28-236 when he reported over the aircraft emergency frequency that he was losing vision in one of his eyes.
About the same time, a radar target using the emergency transponder squawk code was acquired traveling northbound along the coastline.
The airplane wreckage was located on a beach close to the last radar target in Port Orford, Oregon.
The damage to the airplane was consistent with a high-speed, left wing-low impact due to a loss of control. The pilot died in the crash.
According to the pilot’s son, the pilot had been diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivities and had a history of sudden vision loss, sometimes in just one eye but at other times in both eyes, which had been attributed to his chemical sensitivity.
He had not reported the episodes of vision loss or the chemical sensitivity on any of his FAA medical applications. His most recent FAA medical certificate had expired five years before the accident, and it had been five years since he had accomplished a flight review.
The pilot continued to fly, and his flight instructor, who had given the pilot his last flight review and flew with him one year before the accident, reported a significant degradation in the pilot’s flying skills.
Probable cause: The pilot’s loss of vision during cruise flight, which resulted in a loss of aircraft control. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s decision to fly with a known medical condition.
NTSB Identification: WPR17FA052
This January 2017 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.