NTSB Identification: WPR10GA231
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Friday, May 07, 2010 in Borrego Springs, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/28/2011
Aircraft: CESSNA T206H, registration: N663HP
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 public aircraft accident report.

Representatives of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) stated that the CHP pilot was performing traffic surveillance activities with numerous ground units. The officers decided to transfer their activities to another location, and they reported that about 40 minutes after the mission was to be finished, the pilot had not checked in. About 6 hours later, the wreckage of the airplane was located at approximately 1,100 feet mean sea level (msl) on the east face of a 1,500-foot desert mountain. Recorded radar data showed that the autopilot-equipped airplane initially flew along a highway at 1,600 feet msl to the north and then changed direction to the southwest about 20 minutes after the mission was to be finished. The airplane then proceeded on a steady course of 225 degrees magnetic at 1,200 feet msl directly toward rising mountainous terrain. The final radar return occurred 3 minutes later, 1.7 miles northeast of the accident location. The accident location was directly on the extended course line of 225 degrees from the last radar return, at the 1,070-foot elevation level. The pilot’s autopsy report noted severe atherosclerotic coronary artery disease and evidence of a scarring from a prior heart attack. Toxicology testing did not detect any drugs or medications in the tissue evaluated. The pilot had autopsy evidence of severe heart disease, and radar track information was consistent with the autopilot controlling the airplane with an absence of pilot control inputs. There was no indication in the pilot’s medical records that he was aware of any heart disease. The pilot had spinal surgery approximately 1 year prior to the accident, and did have continual intermittent mild to moderate spinal pain, with a recent exacerbation of that pain, but it is unlikely that the pain was sufficiently distracting or impairing to have resulted in the complete absence of control .

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

The pilot suffered a sudden incapacitating event as a result of his severe cardiovascular disease.

Full narrative available

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