NTSB Identification: CEN12LA133
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 11, 2012 in Denmark, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/07/2012
Aircraft: CESSNA 150J, registration: N60676
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

During the flight before the accident flight, the airplane’s cockpit lighting failed and the pilot landed at an alternate airport. Later, a witness saw the pilot walking back to the airport with a 12-pack of beer, and said that the pilot explained that he was going to drink beer and sleep until morning in the airplane. However, the pilot fueled the airplane at a self-service fuel pump and departed for his home airport later that night. Witnesses near the accident site reported seeing an airplane maneuvering at a low altitude with the exterior lights turning on and off. During postaccident interviews, the pilot reported that he did not have interior lighting and was attempting to restore the airplane’s interior lighting by turning the exterior lighting on and off. He also stated that he was having difficulty maintaining control of the airplane. The pilot subsequently lost control of the airplane, which entered an unusual attitude and was not recovered before colliding with trees. Subsequent testing revealed that the pilot had a blood alcohol level of 0.138 g/100 ml. The legal limit for operating an airplane is 0.04 g/100 ml. Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the bulb for the interior lighting had burned out.

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

The pilot’s loss of control due to his alcohol impairment. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to fly at night with a known interior lighting malfunction.

Full narrative available

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