NTSB Identification: LAX06FA089.
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Accident occurred Friday, January 13, 2006 in Visalia, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/26/2007
Aircraft: Piper PA-30, registration: N7291Y
Injuries: 4 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 stalled while the pilot was turning from the base leg to final at his home based airport and impacted the ground in an uncontrolled descent. The airplane came to rest 410 feet from the approach end of the active runway. The ground scars and wreckage deformation signatures indicated the ground impact occurred with a high vertical component and very little horizontal energy. Night visual meteorological conditions existed with calm winds. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any mechanical anomaly to preclude normal operation of the engines or the airplane control systems. No personal flight records were located for the pilot. Based on interviews with acquaintances and family members, the pilot flew often. On his most recent Federal Aviation Administration airman medical application, dated about 1 year prior to the accident, he noted a total flight time of 5,700 flight hours with 75 hours flown in the past 6 months. Review of the pilot's medical records from his personal physician revealed that the pilot had been experiencing back pain that seemed to significantly interfere with his ability to sleep. The toxicological results were positive for extremely high levels of doxylamine, a highly sedating over-the-counter antihistamine, often used in sleep aids such as Unisom Sleep Tabs. The substance had likely accumulated due to daily use and/or use in excess of the maximum recommended dose. The pilot was likely having difficulty obtaining adequate and/or qualitative sleep.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the pilot's failure to maintain airspeed during the landing approach, which resulted in a stall and uncontrolled descent. Contributing factors to the accident were the pilot's impairment due to his prolonged use of a highly sedating over-the-counter sleep aid and fatigue due to lack of sleep.
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