NTSB Identification: MIA03FA068.
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Accident occurred Friday, February 28, 2003 in Captiva Island, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/07/2005
Aircraft: Beech 36, registration: N41VK
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 airplane, with an instrument rated private pilot at the controls, departed on a 19-nautical-mile flight from an island to the mainland across the ocean waters of a sound. A witness, who was an instrument rated private pilot, observed the airplane depart. The witness stated that the airplane "was in IMC [instrument meteorological conditions] about 100 feet MSL as he departed over the Gulf of Mexico." The witness further stated that "there was heavy fog everywhere." He listened to the sound of the airplane's engine "for a minute or two after departure to be sure there were no unusual sounds." A fisherman on the water in the area of the accident site, did not hear or see the accident, but did report that about the time of the accident, fog rolled in over the sound, reducing visibility to 0 feet for about 15 minutes. The visibility then increased to 50 feet. Radar tracked the flight for 1 minute and 39 seconds. The first radar hit showed the airplane about 1 nautical mile southeast of the departure airport at 400 feet msl. For the next 1 minute and 15 seconds, the airplane maintained an east-northeast heading, initially climbing to 700 feet and then descending to 500 feet. The airplane then began to turn left. The airplane had turned approximately 100 degrees and was passing through a northerly heading when the last radar hit was recorded. The last recorded radar hit showed the airplane at 500 feet about 4 nautical miles northeast of the departure airport. The on course heading from the departure airport to the destination was approximately due east. There were no radio communications from the airplane to any air traffic control facility. The pilot had intended to pick up some passengers at the destination airport, and when he did not arrive, concerned family members notified authorities. Search and rescue efforts were started, but were called off due to fog and darkness. The next morning, the airplane wreckage was located about 2 miles southeast of the departure airport in 5 feet of water. Examination of the wreckage revealed evidence indicating the airplane impacted the water in a left wing low and nose low attitude. No evidence of any pre-impact mechanical discrepancies with the airframe or engine was found that would have prevented normal operation.

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

The pilot's VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions and his ensuing failure to maintain altitude/clearance resulting in an in-flight collision with the ocean. A factor was the fog.

Full narrative available

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