NTSB Identification: ERA10FA346
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, July 05, 2010 in Chesapeake, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/06/2011
Aircraft: CESSNA 172P, registration: N52614
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 his home airport, in his personal airplane in visual meteorological conditions, for an undetermined purpose. Radar data indicated that the airplane orbited at low altitude over flat terrain about 6 miles north of the departure airport for about 30 minutes, before it descended to ground impact. In the minute preceding the descent, a transmission from the airplane that included the words "mayday mayday mayday" and "[I] have a flight control malfunctions looks like I'm going down" was broadcast, and the airplane transmitted the emergency transponder beacon code. Postaccident examination and testing of the airframe and engine revealed no indications of preimpact anomalies; all observed damage was consistent with ground impact. The airplane impacted a corn field in a nose-down attitude, creating an impact crater 13 inches deep. The wreckage location was adjacent to a dirt road approximately 3 miles long. About 14 months prior to the accident, the pilot was diagnosed with mild Ankylosing Spondylitis (a chronic inflammation of the spine and sacroiliac joints), but both his airline employer and the Federal Aviation Administration determined that it did not adversely affect his continued employment as an airline pilot. Post-mortem toxicology tests detected low levels of ethanol, and several intermediate compounds in the generation or metabolism of ethanol. Given the presence of putrefaction in the biological specimens, it was possible that some or all of the ethanol was produced post-mortem. The reason why the pilot declared a flight control malfunction could not be determined.

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

The airplane's impact with terrain for undetermined reasons following the pilot's report of a flight control malfunction.

Full narrative available

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