NTSB Identification: IAD05LA028.
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Accident occurred Friday, December 31, 2004 in Knottsville, KY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/31/2006
Aircraft: Cessna 172, registration: N6225E
Injuries: 2 Fatal.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The private pilot departed on the 550-mile trip with an unknown quantity of fuel in visual meteorological conditions. He had 125 total hours of flight experience, and did not possess an instrument rating. There was no record of the pilot obtaining a weather briefing, nor did he file a flight plan. About 4 hours into the flight, and during the hours of darkness, the pilot reported that the airplane was in instrument meteorological conditions, and requested assistance from air traffic control. The conversation between the pilot and the controller continued for several minutes as they discussed weather conditions at various destinations along and around the pilot's intended course. During the conversations, the airplane completed a series of left and right 360-degree turns, and figure-8 maneuvers, as the airplane climbed and descended between 7,000 feet and 10,200 feet. As the airplane continued to circle, the controller issued a heading and suggested the pilot check his heading indicator in relation to his magnetic compass. The pilot replied, "...we're trying to keep it under control and get back to the stars here so we got a reference point." Over the next 5 minutes, the airplane completed three 360-degree right turns. The final radar plots depicted a descending turn to the right, about 9,800 feet, and then the target disappeared. Examination of the wreckage at the scene revealed no mechanical anomalies.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the pilot's loss of control in flight due to spatial disorientation. Also causal to the accident was the pilot's inadequate preflight planning which resulted in his inadvertent flight into night instrument meteorological conditions. Full narrative available
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