NTSB Identification: FTW96FA091.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, January 17, 1996 in LAREDO, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/16/1996
Aircraft: Mooney M20K, registration: N231GS
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 pilot departed from runway 14 with winds 150 degrees at 25 knots, blowing dust and haze, no moon, and high broken cloud condition. The airplane's departure route was over sparsely populated cattle country with minimal lighting. Radar contact was lost 3 minutes after takeoff. According to a witness who had flown with the pilot earlier in the day, the pilot flew that entire trip on autopilot, engaging it at 2,500 feet MSL during his climb out to 8,000 feet. The 500 hour pilot purchased the aircraft in August of 1995, and had acquired an estimated 45 hours of flight time in it, and last flew it in late December, 1995. According to FAA records, the pilot received a weather briefing and filed an IFR flight plan. Witnesses at the FBO in Laredo reported that the pilot asked them for some aspirin just before his takeoff; but they did not have any. The aircraft impacted the ground in an attitude of approximately 30 degrees nose low, and a right bank of approximately 90 degrees.

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

The pilot's loss of aircraft control. A factor was the dark night conditions.

Full narrative available

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