NTSB Identification: ATL05LA154.
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Accident occurred Sunday, August 28, 2005 in Wrightsville Bh, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/29/2006
Aircraft: Samson Seawind 3000, registration: N88PS
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 non-instrument-rated private pilot was observed to drink an unknown quantity of one or more alcoholic beverages within 2 hours of the flight that departed about 0208 and crashed 4 minutes later. Radar data showed the flight headed eastbound to the coast, climbed to about 1,200 feet, then crossed over the coastline. Immediately there after, it entered a 360-degree turn to the right and descended rapidly into the ocean. Reported weather conditions at 0153 included ceilings broken at 300 feet, temperature 23 degrees centigrade, and dew point 22 degrees centigrade. Flight control and engine control continuity could not be determined from the available wreckage, however, the size of the recovered pieces was consistent with a high-energy impact with the water. According to FAA advisory circular 60-4A, "Lack of natural horizon or surface reference is common on over-water flights, at night, and especially at night in extremely sparsely populated areas or in low visibility conditions...can provide inaccurate visual information for aligning the aircraft correctly with the actual horizon. The disoriented pilot may place the aircraft in a dangerous attitude." The toxicology report for specimens from the pilot noted ethanol and butalbital (a prescription barbiturate) in muscle and evidence of putrefaction. A glass pipe found on the pilot tested positive for THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary active substance in marijuana.

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

The pilot's improper preflight decision to attempt night VFR flight into IMC, which resulted in an inflight encounter with weather and the pilot's subsequent loss of control of the airplane due to spatial disorientation.

Full narrative available

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