NTSB Identification: NYC08FA157
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, April 07, 2008 in Seale, AL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/05/2009
Aircraft: CARTWRIGHT H JR/COTTRELL M RV-10, registration: N210HM
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 instrument-rated private pilot requested a very high frequency omnidirectional radio range (VOR) approach into an airport. Thereafter he began a descent from cruise flight into instrument meteorological conditions. The controller cleared the airplane for the approach about 20 miles north of the airport. The airplane then began a descending right turn and the pilot requested, and was provided, vectors to another airport. While en-route to that airport, he amended his request and asked for vectors to a third airport, stating that he required an airport with an instrument landing system (ILS) approach. The controller subsequently provided vectors, followed by an ILS approach clearance. Shortly after receiving the clearance, the airplane flew past the ILS localizer path, and the controller cancelled the approach clearance. The pilot then requested an airport with cloud bases 2,000 feet or better, and the controller advised him to check the weather at a nearby airport. The airplane then began a rapid descending right turn, followed by a steep climbing right turn. The airplane then began another rapid descent and was destroyed when it collided with wooded terrain. Throughout the approach portions of the flight, the airplane deviated multiple times from assigned altitudes and headings. The airplane was equipped with a liquid crystal display avionics suite, in a configuration commonly referred to as a "glass cockpit." No logbook entries were noted indicating that the instrument-rated pilot had flight experience in the accident airplane, and the majority of his flight experience in IMC took place in his own airplane, which was equipped with conventional flight instruments. The pilot-rated passenger/builder held a private pilot certificate and did not possess an instrument rating. No evidence of any preimpact mechanical anomalies was discovered. Weather reports for airports in the vicinity of the accident varied between 8 and 10 miles visibility, with cloud bases between 1,200 and 2,000 feet mean sea level (msl) and cloud tops at 4,500 feet msl. The airplane's turning ground track and the cloud conditions were conducive to the onset of pilot spatial disorientation. The airplane's multiple, rapid ascents and descents are consistent with the pilot's loss of control of the airplane because of spatial disorientation.

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

The pilot-in-command's in-flight loss of control due to spatial disorientation. Contributing to the accident were the weather conditions and the pilot-in-command's lack of flight experience in the accident airplane.

Full narrative available

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