NTSB Identification: MIA06FA098.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, April 25, 2006 in Okeechobee, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/2008
Aircraft: Beech A24R, registration: N9774L
Injuries: 2 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 non-instrument rated private pilot was making a night cross country flight. Radar data indicated that the airplane departed, turned on course and maintained heading for about 24 minutes. The airplane then began to turn left and rapidly descend. The last radar hit placed the airplane less than 1 mile from the accident site. Examination of the wreckage indicated the airplane broke up in flight at a low altitude; the outboard wing panels and the left half of the horizontal stabilator were found about 1,000 feet from the main wreckage. All separations displayed signatures indicative of overload. The accident occurred at night with no illumination from the moon, which was more than 15 degrees below the horizon. Satellite infrared images depicted a broken cloud layer over the accident site with cloud tops near 13,000 feet. Weather radar images showed that the accident site bordered an area of VIP Level 2 moderate intensity echoes with echo tops near 13,000 feet. This area of echoes was associated with a decaying cumulonimbus cloud (thunderstorm). The proximity of the echoes to the accident site suggests the potential for moderate intensity convectively induced turbulence. It is likely that the pilot encountered instrument meteorological conditions or at least lost all visual reference, became disoriented and lost control of the airplane.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control as a result of spatial disorientation and an in-flight break up. Contributing to the accident were the dark night and thunderstorms.

Full narrative available

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