NTSB Identification: ERA12FA205
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, March 02, 2012 in Salisburry, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/29/2013
Aircraft: CESSNA AIRCRAFT CO LC42-550FG, registration: N167ZP
Injuries: 2 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.

Before the airplane departed on a continuing cross-country flight, a lineman at the airport spoke to the pilot and mentioned the marginal nature of the weather. The pilot responded that he was going to stay below 1,900 feet and that he should be fine. The lineman recalled looking at the automated weather observing system monitor, and it was reporting 1,800-foot ceilings and 10 miles visibility locally. Witnesses reported that the airplane’s takeoff and departure were normal. The lineman stated that the weather at the time was visual flight rules with light rain. The airplane was not captured on radar, and the pilot was not in radio contact with air traffic control. According to witnesses near the accident site, they heard the airplane flying overhead but did not see it due to heavy fog. One witness reported that shortly after hearing the aircraft overhead, he heard a loud splash in a nearby lake and, as he turned toward the lake, he saw a large spray of water. Shortly thereafter, a large amount of debris was observed in the water. About 30 minutes elapsed between the time the airplane took off and when it impacted the lake.

The airplane was recovered from the lake and exhibited severe fragmentation, consistent with a steep, high-speed descent and impact. A postaccident examination of the airplane and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. Based on the weather conditions reported by weather-observing equipment and witnesses, the pilot encountered instrument meteorological conditions. The steep, high-speed impact is consistent with an uncontrolled descent due to the pilot’s spatial disorientation.

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

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

Full narrative available

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