NTSB Identification: DEN05FA044.
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Accident occurred Monday, December 27, 2004 in Roswell, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/13/2005
Aircraft: Cessna 172S, registration: N849SP
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 took off on a local IFR flight plan so the pilot could do instrument approaches in preparation for his commercial pilot flight check. The pilot was given radar vectors and accomplished two ILS approaches to the southwest runway. On climb out, the pilot was cleared direct to the CHISUM VOR, and was cleared to fly the procedure turn for the VOR BRAVO approach. While on the procedure turn and on a northerly heading, the airplane disappeared from radar. The local controller attempted to re-establish radio communications with the airplane, but was unable. Several witnesses in vehicles driving westbound on a highway stated they saw the airplane in the air traveling northwest at approximately 2,500 feet above the ground. One witness stated the airplane "suddenly started downward at a steep angle and crashed." Another witness said it took only a few seconds from the time the airplane started downward until it impacted on the highway. A third witness said he saw "a green and red light coming down at a high angle and very fast," and he "heard [a] loud noise, not [an] explosion." The witness said he then went through the debris across the highway and smelled fuel. The weather conditions at the airport, 281 degrees at 12.6 nautical miles from the accident site were clear skies, calm winds, 10 miles visibility, temperature 39 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point 31 degrees F, and altimeter 30.19 inches. At the time of the accident it was night. The light conditions were dark. The airplane was destroyed on impact. An examination of the airplane showed no anomalies.

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

the pilot not maintaining control of the aircraft resulting in an uncontrolled descent and collision on a highway. Factors contributing to the accident were the dark night and the pilot experiencing spatial disorientation.

Full narrative available

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