NTSB Identification: WPR11FA021
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 21, 2010 in Agua Dulce, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/19/2011
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR-22, registration: N427MC
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 airplane departed the airport and flew in a northerly direction towards the mountain pass that was along the airplane's planned route of flight to the northeast. About 12 minutes later, the airplane entered an uncontrolled descent and impacted mountainous terrain at an elevation of 2,690 feet mean sea level (msl). Witnesses reported hearing the airplane overhead moments before the crash, but could not see it through the low clouds, fog, and mist that enveloped the area. The weather at the departing airport (elevation 802 feet) included a broken cloud layer at 1,800 feet and an overcast layer at 2,800 feet. The highest elevation of the mountain pass was 3,200 feet msl with mountain peaks on either side of the pass rising between 4,000 and 5,000 feet. Weather at the accident site at the time was estimated to have been overcast from 3,200 feet (500 feet above ground level) to 4,700 feet. The weather at the nearest airport, which was also next on the airplane's route of flight, 15 miles to the northeast of the mountain pass, had excellent visibility and clear skies. The private pilot did not have an instrument rating. Ethanol was identified in tissue samples obtained from the pilot; however, the toxicology testing could not reliably determine if the ethanol was produced post-mortem or through ingestion. Postaccident examination of the airframe and engine found no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. Witness reports and findings from the wreckage examination are consistent with a loss of control event; and based on the degraded visual reference conditions present about the time of the accident it is likely that the pilot experienced spatial disorientation.

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

The non-instrument-rated pilot's improper decision to continue the flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in spatial disorientation and loss of control.

Full narrative available

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