NTSB Identification: WPR12FA091
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, February 04, 2012 in Show Low, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/25/2013
Aircraft: CESSNA T206H, registration: N445GH
Injuries: 2 Fatal,2 Serious.

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 private pilot departed before dawn in the single-engine airplane with three passengers. One passenger reported that after an uneventful departure, the airplane made an unexpected right turn, with no comment from the pilot. A ground witness observed the airplane in an unusual attitude shortly after takeoff. The airplane then flew out of her view, and a few seconds later, she observed an explosion beyond the runway. The debris field and associated ground scars were adjacent and perpendicular to the runway. The airplane damage and debris distribution were consistent with a high-speed, right-wing-low descent into the ground. All sections of the airplane were located at the accident site, and no anomalies were noted with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation. The damage to the propeller and turbocharger was consistent with the engine producing power at the time of impact.

The airport's automated weather observation system was reporting 8-mile visibility, but with low broken cloud ceilings about the time the pilot would have been performing his preflight inspection. A rapid degradation in weather conditions occurred over the 10-minute-period following the accident, including freezing dense fog and low overcast cloud ceilings. The airport was located on the outskirts of a town, and the route of flight following the initial turn was toward a sparsely populated area. The moon was below the horizon at the time of the accident.

The pilot did not possess an instrument rating, which coupled with the lighting and weather conditions, could have made him vulnerable to spatial disorientation. The airplane's impact trajectory was consistent with the pilot experiencing this phenomenon. Additionally, an instrument-rated pilot departed from the same runway shortly after the accident unaware that it had occurred. He reported that before departure, he could see haze beginning to form close to the ground but could still see clear skies in his direction of travel and presumed that visual meteorological conditions existed. However, during the initial climb, he inadvertently entered a fog layer, and became disoriented.

The pilot had been taking prescription medication for anxiety, the use of which he did not report in any application for a Federal Aviation Administration medical certificate. Although use of such medication may impair the mental and/or physical ability required for flight, it was not possible to conclusively determine what role, if any, the medication played in the accident.

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

The pilot’s encounter with low clouds/low visibility conditions during the initial climb, which resulted in spatial disorientation and loss of airplane control.

Full narrative available

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