NTSB Identification: CHI03FA057.
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Accident occurred Saturday, January 18, 2003 in Hill City, MN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/05/2004
Aircraft: Cirrus Design Corp. SR-22, registration: N9523P
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.
The Cirrus SR-22 aircraft was destroyed upon impact with trees and terrain following a loss of altitude during a turn. The accident site was located in relatively level, wooded terrain. The surrounding area was sparsely populated and heavily wooded. The accident occurred prior to civil twilight and marginal VFR weather conditions were reported at the departure airport. FAA radar data depicted an aircraft proceeding from the departure airport to the south, roughly paralleling a two-lane roadway. The aircraft initially leveled at 2,500 feet pressure altitude. The altitude gradually increased to 3,200 feet. Shortly afterward, the aircraft entered a descending left turn to reach a minimum altitude of 2,400 feet. This resulted in an average descent rate of 2,000 fpm. The aircraft immediately began a climb, as the radius of the left turn decreased noticably. Final radar contact was at 2,900 feet pressure altitude, 0.21 nautical miles, on a course of 278 degrees magnetic to the accident site. The rate of climb averaged 2,500 fpm between the final two radar data points. Several witnesses reported seeing an aircraft flying southbound shortly before the time of the accident. They reported the aircraft was relatively low and was traveling at a high rate of speed. None of the witnesses reported noticing any problems with the aircraft or engine. Witness reports of the weather conditions varied from mostly cloudy to clear, depending on their location. Impact angle was approximately 15 degrees nose down, based on observed tree strikes. The debris path was approximately 500 feet long and the aircraft was highly fragmented. A post accident examination of the aircraft and engine did not reveal any anomalies. The aircraft had logged 35.7 hours since new. The pilot held a private pilot certificate, with a single-engine land rating. He had logged 248.0 hours total time, including 57.0 hours of instrument time and 18.9 hours of night flight time. The pilot was the owner of the aircraft and had taken delivery nearly six weeks prior to the accident. He had completed a flight training program specific to the SR-22 aircraft. This resulted in a VFR-only completion certificate and a high-performance aircraft endorsement. The pilot had logged a total of 19.0 hours in the SR-22. This included 0.3 hour of actual instrument time and 2.3 hours of night flight time. The remaining flight time logged, with the exception of 1.0 hour, was in a Cessna 172 aircraft.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: Spatial disorientation experienced by the pilot, due to a lack of visual references, and a failure to maintain altitude. Contributing factors were the pilot's improper decision to attempt flight into marginal VFR conditions, his inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions, the low lighting condition (night) and the trees. Full narrative available
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