NTSB Identification: NYC00FA119.
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Accident occurred Saturday, April 22, 2000 in CONICVILLE, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/17/2001
Aircraft: Beech N35, registration: N1253Z
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.

While in cruise flight at 9,000 feet, the pilot radioed air traffic control (ATC) that he experienced a gyro failure and "I do not have any artificial horizon my gyro uh I got the compass and the airspeed indicator...I uh I have to stay on top cause I haven't got my artificial horizon." The controller then observed the airplane climbing to a higher altitude and stated to the pilot, "I'm showing you at uh nine thousand eight hundred I don't have any traffic in that area if you can't hold an altitude that's fine just do the best you can." The pilot replied to the controller , "try to see what uh what I can rely on here and what I can't take it back to nine uh it's startin to open up here right now." When the pilot was asked by the controller if he could descend to 7,000 feet and stay on top, the pilot replied, "right now I'm pre I'm almost I'm in the clouds right now." The airplane separated into pieces and descended to the ground. The pilot's last recorded log book entry for flight in actual instrument conditions was about 30 months prior to the accident, which was for 1.3 hours. The pilot's last endorsement for an instrument competency check was about 5 years prior to the accident flight. Examination of the vacuum pump drive shaft with a binocular microscope revealed circular features consistent with torsional overstress. Weather reported at an airport 35 miles south of the accident site included scattered clouds at 4,400 feet, and broken clouds at 8,000 and 10,000 feet.

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

The pilot's in-flight decision to continue flight into IMC conditions, and his failure to maintain control of the airplane. Factors related to the accident were the failure of the vacuum pump and the pilot's lack of recent instrument time.

Full narrative available

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