NTSB Identification: ERA12FA483
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, July 26, 2012 in Plainville, CT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/25/2013
Aircraft: CESSNA 172P, registration: N64182
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.

During daylight in good weather conditions, the pilot was flying an approach to his home airport. After one go-around, the airplane approached the same runway a second time. During the second final approach, the airplane flew lower than normal and the nose dropped. The airplane subsequently impacted a berm 20 feet below and immediately before the runway. A postcrash fire consumed the cockpit and cabin area. Examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions.

The toxicological report noted that Zolpidem (a sleep aid known by the brand name Ambien among others) was detected in the blood and liver. Toxicological reports note “detected,” rather than an actual value, when the level of a substance is below the therapeutic range and, thus, is not intended to imply impairment.

According to law enforcement personnel, during the 2 years preceding the accident, the pilot had gone through a divorce, the closure of his business, and most recently was anticipating arrest on a felony charge. Additionally, about 1 month before the accident, a detective received a telephone call from a family member of the pilot, who expressed concern that the pilot was going to commit suicide based on remarks that the pilot had made; however, the family member later stated that the pilot recanted. Further investigation by law enforcement personnel did not recover a suicide note.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain the proper glidepath during final approach in visual meteorological conditions, resulting in collision with a berm.

Full narrative available

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