NTSB Identification: ERA11FA151
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, February 19, 2011 in Ware Shoals, SC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/05/2013
Aircraft: CESSNA 150E, registration: N3022J
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 non-certificated pilot departed from a field near his private residence for a local flight. According to eyewitnesses, the airplane was observed flying overhead about 10 to 15 feet above a tree, which was about 70 feet in height. One eyewitness reported that the airplane was low enough that he could see the occupant’s profile. Several eyewitnesses stated that when the airplane was in the vicinity of the tree, the engine "revved up," then the left wing dropped. The airplane impacted the ground and nosed over. Examination of the airframe, flight controls, and engine revealed no preaccident malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Examination of the stall warning switch noted cobwebs inside the mechanism that inhibited the normal operation of the switch. It is likely that the non-certificated pilot was operating the airplane slightly above the stall speed, but no audible warning horn was sounded due to the cobwebs; the pilot then likely let the airspeed drop further, and the airplane stalled and entered a spin; however, due to the close proximity to the ground the pilot was unable to recover. Toxicological testing of the non-certificated pilot’s blood revealed significantly elevated levels of ethanol (alcohol), indicating preaccident ingestion that would have impaired his performance. The testing also indicated the presence of diphenhydramine, a sedating antihistamine, which can result in cognitive and psychomotor impairment. Thus, it is very likely that the combination of alcohol and diphenhydramine impaired the pilot’s cognitive and psychomotor functioning at the time of the accident.

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

The non-certificated pilot's impairment due to alcohol and a sedating antihistamine, which resulted in his failure to maintain airspeed and the subsequent aerodynamic stall and ground impact.

Full narrative available

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