NTSB Identification: LAX06LA064.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, December 21, 2005 in Gilroy, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/27/2007
Aircraft: Cessna 172, registration: N7383A
Injuries: 4 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 lost control of the non-instrument-certificated airplane during a dark, night, cross-country flight, in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). The pilot received a weather briefing, which indicated that visual flight rules (VFR) flight was not recommended due to low clouds and precipitation that were reducing visibilities along his route of flight. The pilot elected to depart on the cross-country flight despite the weather briefing, and despite the fact that the airplane was not equipped with an attitude indicator or a directional gyro. During the accident flight, the pilot reported having trouble finding his bearings and maintaining control of the airplane. The pilot received his private pilot certificate about one-month prior to the accident and accumulated about 120 total flight hours. According to his last flight instructor, they did not review go/no-go decision making or personal minimums. Post-accident examination of the wreckage revealed no anomalies that would have affected the controllability of the airplane.

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

The non-instrument rated pilot's poor judgment to fly in dark night instrument conditions, which resulted in his spatial disorientation and loss of aircraft control while maneuvering. Contributing factors were the dark night light condition and the low ceiling.

Full narrative available

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