NTSB Identification: FTW01FA003.
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Accident occurred Thursday, October 12, 2000 in UMBARGER, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/04/2002
Aircraft: Beech B19, registration: N5108R
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.

Dark night conditions prevailed under overcast skies when the non-instrument rated private pilot took off to fly his single engine airplane form his private airstrip to an airport located 29 nautical miles from his airfield. The pilot often used his airplane to commute to and from his place of employment. The accident occurred in a very sparsely populated area that lacked visual cues at night. The airplane impacted a level cultivated field in a nose down attitude while in a left turn, approximately 2 nautical miles north-northeast (021 degrees) from the point of departure. The 254-hour pilot had accumulated a total of 51 hours in the same make and model airplane, a total of 17.5 hours of night time, and 2.5 hours of simulated instrument time. There was no record of a distress call from the aircraft. No anomalies were found with the airframe or engine that could have contributed to the accident. Radar data indicated the airplane departed from the coordinates of the home landing strip and tracked somewhat of a direct course toward the intended destination bearing north northwest at altitudes ranging from 4,100 feet to 4,800 feet MSL. The data showed the airplane in a left turn bearing almost west for about 10 seconds before the radar returns ended abruptly. The accident site was located about 1/2 mile north of the last radar return. The radar data did not show a gradual descent. The last return showed the airplane at 4,700 feet MSL, and then no returns. The reported cloud cover in the area at the time of the accident was 1,600 feet overcast. The terrain elevation was 3,700 feet MSL.

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

The pilot's loss of control due to spatial disorientation. Contributing factors were the low ceilings, the dark night illumination, the lack of visual cues, and the pilot's lack of instrument flight qualification or experience.

Full narrative available

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