NTSB Identification: ANC04FA021.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, February 11, 2004 in Pensacola, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/08/2005
Aircraft: Beech J35, registration: N8389D
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 non-instrument rated solo private pilot filed an IFR cross-country flight plan for a flight along coastal terrain. While en route, the pilot contacted the terminal radar approach control (TRACON) specialist on duty and requested that his IFR flight plan be amended in order to make an unplanned fuel stop. The accident airplane was given priority handling over other arriving aircraft, and was cleared for the instrument landing system (ILS) approach. A review of air-to-ground communications tapes, transcripts, and archived radar data, revealed that the accident pilot was unable to intercept the glide slope and localizer for the ILS approach to runway 17, or to maintain an assigned altitude or heading. The TRACON specialist was attempting to sequence the pilot for a third attempt to the ILS approach for runway 17, when the pilot stated, in part, "I can't, I can't...I've lost it...." No further radio contact was received from the accident airplane, and the airplane disappeared from the TRACON specialist's radar screen. Search crews located the wreckage about 14 miles north-northwest of the airport, in an area of swampy, tree-covered terrain. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces. No preaccident mechanical anomalies were discovered during the investigation. At the time of the accident the reported weather was, in part: Wind, 090 degrees (true) at 10 knots; visibility, 3/4 statute miles with mist; clouds and sky condition, 100 feet overcast; temperature, 55 degrees F; dew point, 55 degrees F; altimeter, 29.98 inHg.

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

The pilot's improper decision to conduct flight that exceeded his demonstrated skills/ability. Also causal was his failure to properly execute the instrument approach. Contributing factors were low ceiling, fog, and the pilot's lack of the appropriate certification for the flight.

Full narrative available

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