NTSB Identification: MIA89LA159.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 39015.
Accident occurred Saturday, May 27, 1989 in BIG PINE KEY, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/18/1990
Aircraft: MOONEY M20J, registration: N3201U
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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 PLT & PASSENGER DEPARTED ON A LATE NIGHT FLT FROM FORT LAUDERDALE TO KEY WEST, FLORIDA. THE FLT PROCEEDED WITHOUT APPARENT INCIDENT UNTIL THE ACFT WAS IN AN OVERWATER DESCENT OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO. THE DESCENT WAS NORMAL UNTIL ABOUT 0223 EDT, WHEN THE ACFT WAS APRX 34 MI NORTHEAST OF KEY WEST. RADAR DATA SHOWED THAT AT ABOUT THAT TIME, THE ACFT'S HEADING BEGAN TO CONSTANTLY CHANGE, WHICH RESULTED IN THE FLT MANEUVERING IN CLIMBS & DESCENTS OVER A 4 MI AREA. AFTER MANEUVERING ABOUT 4 MIN, CONTACT WITH THE ACFT WAS LOST, AND SEARCH & RESCUE EFFORTS WERE INITIATED. AT 0655 EDT, AN OIL SLICK WAS FND IN THE VCNTY OF THE ACFT'S LAST KNOWN POSITION. AT ABOUT 0900 EDT, A COAST GUARD SHIP RECOVERED DEBRIS FROM THE ACFT, BUT THE ACFT'S MAIN WRECKAGE & THE OCCUPANTS WERE NOT FOUND. THE ACFT WAS PRESUMED TO HAVE BEEN DESTROYED & THE OCCUPANTS WERE PRESUMED TO HAVE BEEN FATALLY INJURED OR DROWNED. THE WX AT KEY WEST WAS IN PART: 1500' SCATTERED, VIS 6 MI WITH HAZE. THE WX AT THE ACDNT SITE WAS NOT VERIFIED.

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

THE PILOT BECAME SPATIALLY DISORIENTED AND WAS UNABLE TO MAINTAIN CONTROL OF THE AIRCRAFT. THE LIGHT CONDITIONS (DARK NIGHT) AND WEATHER (HAZE) WERE CONSIDERED TO BE CONTRIBUTING FACTORS.

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