NTSB Identification: WPR13FA013
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, October 15, 2012 in Half Moon Bay, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/13/2014
Aircraft: AEROPRO CZ A240, registration: N72AH
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-instrument-rated sport pilot was departing on a cross-country flight about the time local weather reports indicated 3/4 mile visibility, mist, and an overcast ceiling at 300 feet above the ground. Recorded radar data showed the airplane ascending after takeoff and turning left to an altitude of 1,100 feet mean sea level (msl). As the left turn continued, the airplane descended to an altitude of about 600 feet msl. The last recorded radar data for the accident airplane occurred less than 1/4 mile from the accident site. The airplane wreckage was located about 400 yards west of the departure airport on a bluff that overlooked and paralleled the runway. Examination of the accident site revealed ground scars and airplane damage consistent with a continuous descent from the last recorded radar data to impact. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. 

The restricted visibility and low ceilings that were reported in the area at the time of the accident would have been conducive to the development of spatial disorientation and the pilot’s subsequent loss of airplane control while turning, most likely in an attempt to return to the runway. 

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

The non-instrument-rated pilot’s decision to depart into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in spatial disorientation and a subsequent loss of airplane control.

Full narrative available

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