NTSB Identification: WPR09FA158
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, March 20, 2009 in Corona, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/03/2012
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32-300, registration: N55962
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.

Before departure, the pilot filed an instrument flight rules flight plan and received a flight release. One witness observed the airplane make a normal takeoff and then lost sight of it due to the low fog. Two other witnesses at the airport reported hearing the airplane maneuvering northwest of the airport, making what they believed were 360-degree turns. Neither of these witnesses observed the airplane due to the low visibility. Recorded radar data indicated that the airplane entered a climbing right turn shortly after takeoff and then made several altitude and heading changes before radar contact was lost. The accident occurred before the pilot established radio contact with air traffic control. The weather observation facility at the airport reported visibility of 3/4 mile and 400-foot overcast skies. The wreckage was located in a basin less than 1 mile northwest of the departure runway and in the vicinity of the last radar target. Impact signatures indicated that the airplane collided with the terrain in a nose down and left-wing-low attitude. Review of the pilot’s flight logbook indicated that he obtained an instrument rating about 2 years prior to the accident. He had accumulated 49 hours of instrument flight time of which 2 hours were in actual instrument meteorological conditions. No instrument proficiency check was recorded within the year before the accident, and no instrument flight time was recorded since about 1 month after the pilot obtained the instrument rating. Postaccident examination of the airplane and engine did not reveal evidence of any mechanical failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation. It is likely that the pilot experienced spatial disorientation shortly after takeoff and lost control of the airplane.

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

The pilot did not maintain airplane control during climb due to spatial disorientation while flying in instrument meteorological conditions. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's lack of recent instrument flying experience.

Full narrative available

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