NTSB Identification: CHI96FA049.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, December 12, 1995 in PARKER, KS
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/08/1997
Aircraft: Piper PA-32R-301T, registration: N14BA
Injuries: 1 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 noncertificated pilot advised ARTCC that he was flying at 11,500 feet msl. After numerous exchanges regarding the weather, the ARTCC controller asked if the pilot was over an overcast and if he needed clearance down through it. The pilot replied that he was on-top. The pilot was then asked if he had recent training or experience flying IFR. He replied, 'I have not.' The pilot told the controller, 'I have gone down through the clouds...we've never had a problem with it.' The controller advised that it would be illegal to enter the clouds (while flying VFR). A few moments later, the pilot said, '...we've got a broken spot right here. We can dip down through.' After that, there was no further communication with the airplane. Subsequently, an in-flight breakup of the airplane occurred, and wreckage was scattered over a 1,600' area. An exam revealed the stabilator and portions of the left wing had separated due to overload failure. Radar data showed that a number of altitude and heading changes occurred before radar contact was lost (witnesses noted a corresponding variation in engine sound before impact). A toxicology test of the pilot's blood detected a trace of cocaine (less than 0.020 mcg/ml) and showed 0.129 mcg/ml Benzoylecgonine (metabolite of cocaine). A test of his liver fluid showed 0.051 mcg/ml Benzoylecgonine.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the pilot's impairment of judgment and performance due to a drug (cocaine); his improper in-flight decision to continue flight over an overcast condition and then to descend into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC); his failure to maintain control of the airplane, due to spatial disorientation, after entering clouds; and his exceeding the design/stress limits of the airplane. Factors relating to the accident were: the weather conditions, the pilot's lack of instrument experience, and the pilot's overconfidence in his personal ability. Full narrative available
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