NTSB Identification: LAX08FA047
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, January 18, 2008 in Selma, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/29/2009
Aircraft: Beechcraft V35B, registration: N4662M
Injuries: 1 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 was on an IFR cross-country flight in clear VFR conditions. The radar track was consistent with the flight's ATC clearance to the south-southeast in a steady 900-foot-per-minute climb. About 4 minutes after departure the pilot requested to leave the frequency for 1 minute, which the controller approved. The airplane vanished from radar 4 minutes later and entered a 5,400-foot-per-minute or greater rate of descent. A witness saw the airplane "disintegrate" in flight. The airplane wreckage was distributed along a 1,541-foot-long north-south debris field in the vicinity of the last radar return. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any evidence of a pre-existing airframe, engine, or flight control anomaly. The pilot had a history of episodic incapacitating pain, diabetes requiring insulin, the use of multiple potentially impairing medications, and a history of alcohol abuse. The pilot had not noted the pain, the diabetes, or the medications used to treat these conditions on his most recent application for airman medical certificate. The pilot's FAA medical records did note a history of driving while intoxicated in 1992, but the FAA had not requested any additional details surrounding the pilot's alcohol use. The pilot had been drinking alcohol within hours of the flight, and the forensic toxicology report was consistent with a blood alcohol level of approximately 0.07 percent at the time of the accident, sufficient to have resulted in impairment. The toxicology report also was consistent with the use of multiple prescription medications that are potentially impairing, but no blood was available for evaluation and it was therefore not possible to estimate when the medications might have been most recently used or whether the pilot may have been impaired by the medication use or by interactions between those medications and/or alcohol.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain control resulting in the in-flight break-up of the airplane due to aerodynamic overload. Contributing factors included the pilot's impairment due to multiple medical conditions and due to recent use of alcohol.

Full narrative available

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