NTSB Identification: NYC08LA008
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, October 07, 2007 in St.Croix, VI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/12/2009
Aircraft: BEECH D55, registration: N100UC
Injuries: 1 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 pilot called a friend on St. Thomas and asked if he had a flight to St. Croix that day, and if he could he bring back a family member for him. The friend advised it would be no problem. Later, the pilot called again and stated, "I can see St. Croix from my house," so that he would fly to St. Croix and get the family member himself. The friend became concerned as the weather was "real bad" near St. Croix. The pilot departed St. Thomas and received VFR flight following. The controller asked if he was able to go through the weather. The pilot responded that he did not have any weather where he was, that there was some lightning around him, but that everything seemed "pretty good." The flight was handed off to St. Croix tower. The tower controller asked what his position was, and the pilot responded, "Roger we are level at (unintelligible) oh boy we're having some prob." This was the last transmission received. Analysis of the weather revealed level 5 thunderstorms were present in vicinity of St. Croix. The pilot probably encountered moderate-heavy rain in the minutes before the accident. However, the pilot was likely in light-moderate precipitation when the airplane was lost from radar. Multiple cloud layers existed at and below 3,000 feet. After the accident the weather observation showed winds with gusts to 17 knots. The sun had set, and twilight had ended prior to the accident. Considering the weather data, and lack of ambient light, there would have been no visible horizon, forcing the pilot to control the airplane solely by referencing the flight instruments The Airplane Flying Handbook states that "unless a pilot has many hours of training in instrument flight, flight in reduced visibility or at night when the horizon is not visible should be avoided.

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

The non-instrument rated pilot's decision to continue VFR flight into IMC conditions subsequently leading to a loss of control. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's lack of instrument experience, the weather conditions, and the night lighting conditions.

Full narrative available

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