NTSB Identification: ERA09FA092
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, December 17, 2008 in Goodland, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/23/2010
Aircraft: CESSNA 172S, registration: N967SP
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 pilot departed at night in visual meteorological conditions to work on night recurrence training and was flying in an area over water with limited visual references. Witnesses near the accident site reported hearing the sound of an airplane engine that increased in rpm. Some witnesses observed the airplane in a "nose-dive" toward the water. The airplane crashed into about 5 feet of water on a tidal mud-flat, about 16 miles south-southeast of the departure airport. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any preimpact malfunctions or anomalies. The pilot had accumulated about 820 hours of total flight experience and had flown about 20 hours during the 2 years preceding the accident. He did not possess an instrument rating. A law enforcement helicopter pilot who responded to the accident site reported that it was very dark and believed that lack of visual cues with the naked eye would have required navigation via aircraft instrumentation.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control due to spatial disorientation. Contributing to the accident was the night light conditions.

Full narrative available

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