NTSB Identification: LAX98FA305.
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Accident occurred Saturday, September 26, 1998 in ARBUCKLE, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/29/2000
Aircraft: O'NEIL VAN'S RV-3, registration: N244WW
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.
A witness heard an aircraft fly overhead but was unable to see it due to low clouds and misting precipitation. Another witness saw the airplane break out of the bottom of the overcast, accompanied by increased engine sounds and falling parts, which had separated from the aircraft. He estimated the ceiling to be about 400 feet above ground level. The aircraft was not equipped for IFR flight and the pilot did not possess an instrument rating. The right wing separated from the aircraft and was located approximately 100 feet from the main wreckage. The empennage section also separated from the fuselage, and, the horizontal and vertical stabilizers had separated from the empennage. Examination of the wreckage disclosed that the fracture surfaces exhibited overload characteristics, and no preimpact malfunctions or failures were found with the control system. The pilot's toxicological results were positive for quinine. The side effects of quinine can include disturbances of vision, hearing, and balance. Disturbances of balance have been noted even at low doses, and the use of quinine by pilots is usually contraindicated, as it may contribute to spatial disorientation under some conditions.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's attempt to continue VFR flight in instrument conditions, which led to his spatial disorientation and in-flight loss of aircraft control, and, resulted in a pilot-induced overload failure of the airframe. The pilot's use of quinine may have been a factor in this accident. Full narrative available
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