NTSB Identification: ERA09LA392
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, July 08, 2009 in Sanderson, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/15/2009
Aircraft: NOLES VANCE L VANS RV7A, registration: N774US
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 departed on a visual flight rules flight without obtaining a weather briefing. Review of Doppler radar obtained from the National Weather Service depicted two bands of thunderstorms over northern Florida, the first running east-to-west and the other running northeast-to-southwest along central and western Florida. Recorded radar data showed the accident airplane's flight track approaching the band of thunderstorms, turning northeast and parallel to the weather, and then passing between the two weather areas. The flight track then turns back northwestward and penetrates the area of thunderstorms. A witness stated that the clouds in the vicinity of the crash site were overcast about 200 feet with light rain and distant thunder. Examination of the airplane revealed the vertical stabilizer and rudders separated and were not located. Examination of a tail cone section revealed fracture surfaces on the front and rear spar, and the rear doubler assembly exhibited slant-fracture features consistent with ductile overload due to exceeding the design limits. There was no evidence of preexisting damage due to fatigue or corrosion.

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

The pilot's continued visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions with convective activity and thunderstorms. Contributing to the accident was his failure to get an adequate weather briefing.

Full narrative available

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