NTSB Identification: LAX98FA282.
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Accident occurred Friday, September 04, 1998 in LLANO, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/13/2000
Aircraft: Simons LANCAIR 235, registration: N1142W
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 non-instrument rated pilot received a weather briefing for his original route of flight the morning of the accident and was advised that IFR conditions existed along that route but that VFR conditions existed through the desert areas. The briefer told the pilot that mid level broken to scattered cloud layers were forecasted and that no thunderstorm activity was expected until after 1100. About 40 minutes into his flight, a pilot friend in a second airplane that was traveling to the same destination caught up with the pilot and they conversed via radio. The second pilot indicated that he filed an IFR flight plan due to the uncertain nature of the weather forecasts. The second pilot stated that the weather started to turn bad, and the accident pilot told him that he was going to turn back. The second pilot saw him make a 180-degree turn and descend into clouds; he did not receive any further communication from the accident pilot. Witnesses at the accident site stated that it had been raining and the clouds were all the way down to the ground, with one witness saying she could not see the neighbor's house 1/4-mile away. One witness stated that the airplane flew directly over her house no higher than 75 feet, made a tight right turn, and then crashed to the ground with a loud bang. The extensively fragmented wreckage was distributed over a distance of 718 feet. Examination of the airframe, engine, propeller, and avionics revealed no discrepancies. Review of the pilot's logbook revealed no evidence of instrument flight experience since 1958.

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

Pilot's inadvertent VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions , which resulted in spatial disorientation and a subsequent loss of aircraft control.

Full narrative available

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