NTSB Identification: DFW07FA049.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, January 02, 2007 in Armstrong, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/31/2008
Aircraft: Cessna 172H, registration: N3940R
Injuries: 3 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.

"THIS CASE WAS MODIFIED ON 1/31/2008."

The non-instrument rated private pilot inadvertently entered clouds while attempting a night cross-country in marginal night visual meteorological conditions. While maneuvering to maintain visual flight rules, the pilot entered the clouds and consequently lost control of the airplane. The airplane impacted the ground in a right turn in a pronounced nose-low attitude. The area of the accident is sparsely populated and there were no reported eyewitnesses to the accident. A pilot flying in the vicinity of the accident pilot reported several cloud layers between 1,500 and 6,000 feet mean sea level. The airplane was configured with the flaps retracted. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any anomalies or pre-impact defects. The pilot had no actual instrument time and was not prepared to enter instrument meteorological conditions. Toxicology testing detected ethanol and citalopram in tissue samples. The ethanol detected is most likely a result of post-mortem ethanol production. It could not be determined if the use of citalopram (a prescription antidepressant also used for certain anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder) or the undetermined condition for which it was prescribed were contributory to the accident, although the use of citalopram by pilots is considered disqualifying by the FAA.

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

The pilot's continued flight into adverse weather conditions resulting in a loss of control. Contributing factors were the dark night conditions, the clouds. low ceilings, and the pilot's limited night and instrument experience.

Full narrative available

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