NTSB Identification: ATL91FA020.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 44644.
Accident occurred Friday, January 11, 1991 in PAGELAND, SC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/13/1993
Aircraft: MOONEY M20F, registration: N6858V
Injuries: 2 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.

AFTER DEPARTING ON AN INSTRUMENT FLIGHT, THE PILOT REPORTED A SYSTEM PROBLEM AND REQUESTED CLEARANCE BACK TO THE DEPARTURE AIRPORT. SOON THEREAFTER, THE PILOT DECLARED AN EMERGENCY BECAUSE HE WAS EXPERIENCING A GYRO PROBLEM. NO FURTHER COMMUNICATION WAS RECEIVED FROM N6858V. INSTRUMENT WEATHER CONDITIONS PREVAILED AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT. WITNESSES HEARD THE AIRPLANE FLYING IN CLOUDS BEFORE IT CRASHED. REPORTEDLY, IT MADE AN 'S' TURN, THEN IT WAS OBSERVED BELOW THE CLOUDS, SECONDS BEFORE IMPACT. THE AIRPLANE WAS EXTENSIVELY DAMAGED DURING IMPACT. AN EXAM OF THE FLIGHT CONTROLS FAILED TO DISCLOSE ANY OBVIOUS MALFUNCTION OR CONTROL FAILURE. EXAMINATION OF THE ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS AND VACUUM SYSTEM COMPONENTS FAILED TO INDICATE A MECHANICAL PROBLEM. BOTH GYROS SHOWED SIGNS OF ROTATION, AND THE VACUUM PUMP SUSTAINED IMPACT DAMAGE. A LOW LEVEL OF ETHANOL WAS DETECTED IN THE PILOT'S LIVER TISSUE, BUT NONE WAS FOUND IN KIDNEY TISSUE.

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

FAILURE OF THE PILOT TO MAINTAIN CONTROL OF THE AIRCRAFT, DUE TO SPATIAL DISORIENTATION. FACTORS RELATED TO THE ACCIDENT WERE: THE WEATHER CONDITIONS AND THE MALFUNCTION OF A GYRO INSTRUMENT (PROBABLY THE ATTITUDE INDICATOR).

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