NTSB Identification: LAX05FA193.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, June 01, 2005 in Van Nuys, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/28/2006
Aircraft: Mooney M20C, registration: N6574U
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 departed from controlled flight during a missed approach and collided with hilly terrain. The non-instrument rated private pilot departed, at night, to an airport located about 40 miles to the north. While en route, the pilot contacted the terminal radar approach control (TRACON) specialist on duty and was subsequently advised that weather conditions were IFR at the pilot's intended destination airport. The pilot responded by saying he was going to try to find a VFR route. A review of archived radar data revealed that the accident airplane flew to various locations around the accident airport at altitudes above the underlying overcast cloud layer. The pilot then contacted the TRACON specialist and requested the ILS runway 16R approach at the accident airport. 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 16R, or to maintain an assigned altitude or heading. Examination of the radar data for the pilot's attempted ILS approach showed that the airplane crossed the final approach course, 161 degrees, from the west between the initial approach fix and the outer marker. The airplane's track overshot the final approach course to the east and then corrected back so that it was on course at the outer marker. The track then deviated to the east again and corrected back to the final approach course, which was then followed by a 90-degree turn away from the final approach course to the west. The track proceeded westerly for 27 seconds, climbing from 2,100 to 2,500 feet and then down to 2,400 feet. The track turned south for 32 seconds, climbing from 2,400 feet to 3,000 feet. The last leg of the track proceeded northwesterly for the final 12 seconds, and the altitude descended from 3,000 feet to 2,600 feet, to 2,400 feet, to the accident elevation at 1,253 feet. Impact forces destroyed the airplane. According to the airplane's owner, the attitude gyro indicated a 10-degree left angle of bank when the airplane was in level flight. No preaccident mechanical anomalies were discovered during the investigation. At the time of the accident the reported weather was 1,400 feet overcast, with tops estimated at 3,000 feet. The weather forecast products available at the time of the pilot's departure predicted marginal VFR to IFR conditions at the destination, with ceilings occasionally below 1,000 feet and visibilities below 3 miles.

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

The pilot's decision to attempt flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in the pilot's loss of aircraft control due to spatial disorientation. Factors in the accident were haze and low ceilings, the night lighting condition, an undetermined attitude gyro problem, and the pilot's lack of qualification/experience for flight in instrument conditions.

Full narrative available

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