NTSB Identification: CEN10FA392
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, July 13, 2010 in Tolar, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/11/2011
Aircraft: BEECH 35C33, registration: N5827S
Injuries: 3 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 and the two passengers departed on a cross country flight on a dark, moonless night over a rural area. Approximately 10 minutes after they departed, the airplane was observed in a descending spiral over a hay field. The last 50 seconds of recorded GPS data and the witness's description of the maneuvers before the crash, were consistent with the pilot experiencing a vestibular illusion, which resulted in a spiral from which he was unable to recover. Although toxicology testing detected very low levels of a marijuana metabolite in the blood, it was consistent only with use of the substance in the days or weeks preceding the accident, and not suggestive of impairment at the time of the accident. A postaccident examination of the airplane and the engine revealed no preimpact mechanical deficiencies.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain control of the airplane while maneuvering at night over a rural area, due to spatial disorientation.

Full narrative available

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