NTSB Identification: LAX94LA079.
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Accident occurred Friday, December 24, 1993 in CHICO, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/11/1995
Aircraft: AERO COMMANDER 100, registration: N4042X
Injuries: 1 Fatal,2 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

THE NON-INSTRUMENT RATED PILOT & 2 PASSENGERS WERE RETURNING TO CHICO AT NIGHT. WHILE EN ROUTE, THE DESTINATION WEATHER BEGAN TO DETERIORATE. THE PILOT REQUESTED & RECEIVED SPECIAL VFR CLEARANCE INTO THE AIRPORT TRAFFIC AREA (ATA), & WAS CLEARED TO LAND ON RUNWAY 13L. MINUTES LATER, HE TRANSMITTED HE WAS 'A LITTLE HIGH' & WOULD PROBABLY HAVE TO GO AROUND. THE CONTROLLER THEN APPROVED THE FLIGHT FOR 'RIGHT TRAFFIC.' THE AIRPLANE CRASHED ON FLAT TERRAIN ABOUT 1 MILE WEST OF THE AIRPORT. INVESTIGATION REVEALED IT IMPACTED IN A LEFT WING LOW ATTITUDE WHILE ON A NORTHERLY HEADING. NO PREIMPACT PART FAILURE OR MALFUNCTION WAS FOUND. ABOUT 1 MINUTE BEFORE THE CONTROLLER ISSUED THE SPECIAL VFR CLEARANCE, HE SENT A SPECIAL WEATHER OBSERVATION TO REDBLUFF FSS THAT THE WEATHER WAS: INDEFINITE CEILING; SKY OBSCURED; VISIBILITY ZERO. HE DID NOT TRANSMIT THIS INFO TO THE PILOT. HE CONTINUED TO APPROVE SPECIAL VFR OPERATIONS, ALTHOUGH HE COULD NOT SEE AIRCRAFT ON THE RUNWAY. TOWER WAS ABOUT 1/4 MILE FROM THE RUNWAY & ABOUT 5/8 MILE FROM THE APPROACH END OF THE RUNWAY.

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

ISSUANCE OF AN IMPROPER (SPECIAL VFR) CLEARANCE BY THE TOWER CONTROLLER, WHILE THE VISIBILITY WAS LESS THAN ONE MILE, CONTINUED VFR FLIGHT BY THE PILOT INTO INSTRUMENT METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS (IMC), AND THE PILOT'S FAILURE TO MAINTAIN CONTROL OF THE AIRPLANE AFTER BECOMING SPATIALLY DISORIENTED. FACTORS RELATED TO THE ACCIDENT WERE: DARKNESS, FOG, FAILURE OF THE CONTROLLER TO ADVISE THE PILOT OF THE LATEST WEATHER INFORMATION, AND THE PILOT'S LACK OF INSTRUMENT EXPERIENCE.

Full narrative available

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