NTSB Identification: LAX95LA261.
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Accident occurred Friday, July 21, 1995 in HURON, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/15/1996
Aircraft: AERO COMMANDER S2R, registration: N5609X
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

THE PILOT WAS CONDUCTING A NIGHT AERIAL APPLICATION FLIGHT, AND HAD JUST TAKEN OFF TO START ON A NEW FIELD (AT ABOUT 0500 PDT). HE REPORTED THAT THE GROUND FLAGGERS WERE NOT IN THE PROPER POSITION WHEN HE MADE THE INITIAL PASS. THE PILOT SAID HE PULLED UP AND REACHED DOWN TO GET HIS MAP TO VERIFY THE FLAGGERS' PROPER POSITION, AND TURNED ON THE INTERIOR LIGHTING TO READ THE MAP. AFTER READING THE MAP, HE REACHED FOR THE INTERIOR LIGHTING SWITCH. AT ABOUT THAT TIME, THE AIRPLANE STRUCK THE GROUND. TOXICOLOGY TESTS OF THE PILOT'S URINE INDICATED AN UNQUANTIFIED LEVEL OF VALIUM AND A PAIN MEDICATION (OPIATE POSITIVE). THE PILOT STATED THAT HE TOOK A PAIN PILL BEFORE GOING TO THE HOSPITAL (EMERGENCY ROOM), AND THAT HE HAD TAKEN 1/2 OF A 5 MILLIGRAM (MG) VALIUM TABLET AT ABOUT NOON ON THE PREVIOUS DAY SO HE COULD GET SOME SLEEP BEFORE REPORTING FOR WORK AT 2100 HOURS. VALIUM IS AN ANTIANXIETY AGENT AND MUSCLE RELAXANT, NOT APPROVED FOR USE WHILE FLYING. PHARMACY RECORDS SHOWED THAT ON 5/26/95, THE PILOT HAD PRESCRIPTIONS FILLED FOR 90 VALIUM TABLETS AND 90 TYLENOL/CODEINE TABLETS.

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

FAILURE OF THE PILOT TO MAINTAIN SUFFICIENT ALTITUDE ABOVE THE GROUND AFTER DIVERTING HIS ATTENTION TO READ A MAP. FACTORS RELATING TO THE ACCIDENT WERE: DARKNESS, WHICH REDUCED THE PILOT'S VISUAL CUES CONCERNING OUTSIDE REFERENCES WHILE READING THE MAP; AND THE PILOT'S USE OF A DRUG.

Full narrative available

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