NTSB Identification: FTW96FA390.
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Accident occurred Thursday, September 19, 1996 in WACO, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/30/1997
Aircraft: Cessna 320C, registration: N3020T
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 (plt) left his residence at 0500 & flew from San Antonio to Alamogordo. On the return flight (flt), he diverted to New Braunfels, due to weather (wx). After landing, he indicated that he needed fuel, but fuel was not available until the next morning. Reportedly, he slept in the aircraft (acft). Airport (arpt) personnel noted plt had departed without refueling & without a wx briefing. No record of en route communication or refueling was found. About 0600, wreckage was sited where acft had impacted in a level attitude near Waco Regional Arpt, about 0.89 mi from the VOR. Arpt elevation was 516 ft, minimum descent altitude (MDA) for the VOR approach was 880 ft. The VOR bearing selector was found at 142 deg (inbnd course was 141 deg). Waco wx was reported to be 300' ceiling, variable 100', visibility 1/2 mi with fog. No preimpact mechanical failure was found. Propeller damage & slashes marks indicated the engines were providing power during impact. Plt had been prescribed Wellbutrin (bupropion) for depression & anxiety. Toxicology tests of his blood showed 0.11 mcg/ml bupropion (antidepressant), 0.20 mcg/ml erythrodihydrobupropion, 0.94 mcg/ml threodihydrobupropion, & an unreported amount of tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (metabolite of marijuana). Tests of his urine showed 0.118 mcg/ml Phentermine (appetite suppressant/stimulant). Plt's prescription for bupropion had been refilled on 8/28/96. His son believed he was under stress from business & finances, & probably fatigued. Plt had urgent need to be at a real estate license renewal class in Ft Worth at 0900.

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

VFR flight by the pilot into instrument meteorological conditions, and his failure to maintain sufficient altitude or clearance from the terrain. Factors relating to the accident were: inadequate preflight by the pilot, his failure to obtain a weather briefing, darkness, adverse weather conditions, lack of fuel to proceed to an alternate destination, pressure induced on the pilot by an urgent need to get to a real estate license renewal class, and pilot anxiety/depression.

Full narrative available

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