NTSB Identification: FTW95FA261.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, June 28, 1995 in SAN ANGELO, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/29/1996
Aircraft: CESSNA 182Q, registration: N759NU
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

THE NON-INSTRUMENT RATED PRIVATE PILOT ELECTED TO DEPART ON A NIGHT CROSS-COUNTRY FLIGHT AFTER RECEIVING TWO WEATHER BRIEFINGS ADVISING OF CURRENT THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY NEAR THE DEPARTURE AIRPORT. WITNESSES AT THE AIRPORT DESCRIBED THE WEATHER CONDITIONS AS MODERATE TO HEAVY RAIN, STRONG GUSTY WINDS, VISIBILITY OF 5 MILES OR LESS WITH MULTIPLE LIGHTNING STRIKES OCCURRING IN THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY OF THE AIRPORT. A WITNESS OBSERVED THE AIRPLANE TAKEOFF, TURN DOWNWIND, AND THEN ENTER 'AN ABRUPT DESCENT AND EXPLODE ON IMPACT.' RADAR DATA REVEALED THE AIRPLANE WAS AIRBORNE FOR APPROXIMATELY 3 MINUTES. THE CREW OF A HELICOPTER WHICH PARTICIPATED IN THE SEARCH FOR THE AIRPLANE REPORTED THE ACCIDENT SITE WAS 'IN A VERY DARK AREA WITH HARDLY ANY GROUND LIGHTS' AND REPORTED DIFFICULTY IN SEEING OUTSIDE THEIR AIRCRAFT 'DUE TO THE DARKNESS OF THE NIGHT.' EXAMINATION OF THE AIRFRAME AND ENGINE DID NOT REVEAL EVIDENCE OF ANY STRUCTURAL OR MECHANICAL ANOMALIES. THE PILOT HAD 1.5 HOURS TOTAL INSTRUMENT TIME AND 10.8 HOURS TOTAL NIGHT TIME.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

THE PILOT'S DECISION TO ATTEMPT FLIGHT INTO KNOWN ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS, AND HIS LOSS OF AIRCRAFT CONTROL DUE TO SPATIAL DISORIENTATION. FACTORS RELATING TO THE ACCIDENT WERE: CONDITIONS OF DARKNESS, THUNDERSTORM AND LIGHTNING, AND THE PILOT'S LACK INSTRUMENT EXPERIENCE.

Full narrative available

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