NTSB Identification: LAX88FA307.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 39636.
Accident occurred Saturday, September 03, 1988 in GRAND CANYON, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/16/1990
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N54814
Injuries: 4 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.

THE PILOT HAD FLOWN THE ACFT ON TWO PREVIOUS FLIGHTS ON THE DAY OF THE ACCIDENT. THE FIRST FLT WAS WITHOUT INCIDENT. THE SECOND FLT WAS ABORTED DURING THE TAKEOFF CLIMB. THE PILOT CALCULATED HIS WEIGHT ONBOARD AND REALIZED HE EXCEEDED THE MAX GROSS. HE DEFUELED AN UNKNOWN QUANTITY OF FUEL AND PLANNED TO STAY THE NIGHT IN THE AREA BUT WAS UNABLE TO SECURE LODGING. HE THEN ELECTED TO CONTINUE THE FLT THAT NIGHT. WITNESSES STATED THE ACFT CLIMBED TO APRX 200 FT WITH THE WINGS FLUCTUATING IN BANK ANGLE AFTER WHICH THE ACFT ENTERED A SPIRAL AND DESCENDED TO THE GROUND. DENSITY ALT WAS CALCULATED TO HAVE BEEN 8,500 FT WHEN THE TAKEOFF OCCURRED. THE ARPT PROVIDES A 'BLACK HOLE' ENVIROMENT AT NIGHT. REVIEW OF THE PLT LOGBOOKS REVEALED A LACK OF RECENT NIGHT EXPERIENCE IN ACCORDANCE WITH FAR PART 61.75(D).

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

THE PILOT FAILED TO MAINTAIN CONTROL OF THE AIRCRAFT DURING NIGH VISUAL METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS. CONTRIBUTING TO THIS ACCIDENT WAS THE PILOT'S LACK OF RECENT EXPERIENCE AT NIGH AND THE LACK OF OUTSIDE VISUAL REFERENCES DUE TO DARKNESS.

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