NTSB Identification: BFO96FA022.
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Accident occurred Sunday, November 19, 1995 in CLEVELAND, OH
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/11/1996
Aircraft: Beech 58, registration: N721MD
Injuries: 3 Fatal,2 Serious.

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 pilot received a weather briefing and filed an IFR flight plan for a night/cross-country flight. For departure from runway 24R, he was given clearance for a right turn after takeoff to a heading of 350, then he was cleared for takeoff. The tower controller stated that after the airplane was airborne, he instructed the pilot to contact departure control. The pilot acknowledged, then no further transmission was received from the plane. The controller last saw the airplane at an altitude of about 100 to 200 feet AGL, near the end of the 6,198 foot runway, when it began a right turn to a northerly heading. He then diverted his attention to other work. Subsequently, the airplane crashed on a lake north of the airport. Two passengers survived. They noted no problem with the pilot or airplane before water contact. No preimpact mechanical malfunction or failure of the airplane was found. The pilot of another airplane, who departed shortly after the accident flight, reported he was disoriented when he turned north during departure. He stated there was no visible horizon, overcast clouds blocked light from above, and there were no lights from below. Due to darkness over the lake, he had to '...stay on the instruments...until above the overcast.'

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

the pilot's improper IFR procedure, by failing to maintain a positive rate of climb (and terrain clearance) after takeoff. Factors relating to the accident were: darkness, and the lack of visual references over water and under overcast cloud conditions.

Full narrative available

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