NTSB Identification: FTW02FA071.
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Accident occurred Thursday, January 17, 2002 in Sinton, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/30/2004
Aircraft: Beech C23, registration: N6622X
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.

The single-engine airplane impacted trees and terrain during dark night instrument meteorological conditions with fog. The private pilot, sole occupant, was returning to the home base airport from a cross-country flight. The ATC controller issued the pilot the weather (wind 120 degrees at 9 knots, visibility 10, clouds 25,000 scattered, temperature 20 degrees Celsius, dew point 19 degrees Celsius, and the altimeter 30.02 inches Mercury) at the nearest airport (approximately 15 nautical miles from the destination airport) and told the pilot that fog was reported in the area. The pilot requested and was cleared for the non-precision approach VORDME 14 at the destination airport. Radar contact was lost with the aircraft at an altitude of 1,901 feet msl. Subsequently, the pilot transmitted in part "approach... can't find the airport." The controller instructed the pilot to execute the published missed approach instructions and asked the pilot for his next request. The pilot transmitted in part: "I've got it, I've got the strobe under me now sir." The controller requested if the airplane was landing and the pilot transmitted "affirmative sir I got the strobe." The controller asked the pilot if he was canceling IFR, and the pilot transmitted "no sir just a minute stay with me please sir." There were no further communications with the pilot. Witnesses near the airport reported hearing the airplane flying low, a loud boom, the sound of an explosion and fire. Local authorities, who responded to the accident site, reported "floating fog and mist in the vicinity of the airport." The pilot had accumulated 2,000 hours in the make and model of airplane. In 1996, the pilot had logged 122.8 hours of actual instrument flight time; however, neither the pilot's total or recency of IFR experience at the time of the accident could be verified. Flight control continuity was confirmed. Examination and teardown of the engine did not reveal any discrepancies that would preclude operation of the engine. The muffler was pressure tested in accordance with the manufacturer's heater muffler inspection procedures, and no leaks were detected. According to the NTSB metallurgist, the debris found on the carburetor inlet screen were deposits of the melted float assembly. No evidence of an in-flight mechanical and/or flight control malfunction was found that would have rendered the airplane uncontrollable prior to the impact.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance with trees while executing a missed approach procedure. Contributing factors were the prevailing fog and the dark night conditions.

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