CEN12LA133
CEN12LA133

On January 11, 2012, about 2245 central standard time (CST), a Cessna 150J airplane, N60676, collided with trees near Denmark, Wisconsin. The airline transport pilot, the sole occupant, was seriously injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings and fuselage. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from the Manitowoc Regional Airport (KMTW), Manitowoc, Wisconsin, about 2045, and destined for the West Bend Municipal Airport (KETB), West Bend, Wisconsin.

A witness at KMTW reported to police that the pilot had entered a local Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) meeting asking if food was available. The witness added that the accident pilot told him that while on a joy ride, all of the interior lighting went out. The pilot was having a hard time navigating, saw the beacon at KMTW, and decided to land and remain in the Manitowoc area until it got light again. Another witness at the airport saw the pilot walking to the airport ramp with a 12-pack of beer. In a conversation with the pilot, the witness recalled that the pilot stated he was going to drink a few beers and sleep in his Cessna 150 until daylight. The witness told the pilot to ask the local EAA members for assistance. Receipts from the airfield show that the pilot fueled his airplane three times between 2009 and 2030, and the pilot reported that he departed shortly after refueling.

A pilot rated witness reported that he observed the airplane about 2230, two miles south of crash site. He added that the airplane maneuvered approximately 500 feet above ground level. The airplane's landing light was observed on and off during the turns. The witness reported that the airplane's engine sounded normal and changes to the engine's rpm were heard.

The accident site consisted of a heavily wooden area in slightly rolling terrain. The airplane was suspended inverted in trees at an approximate height of 50 feet. In the area under the suspended airplane, an empty 12-pack beer container was found with five unopened beer cans found in the nearby area; one beer can was in a beverage holder. Two beer cans were found opened and empty.

In statements obtained by the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s department, at 0243 on January 12, the pilot called to report the airplane crash. During questioning, the pilot admitted to drinking three alcohol beverages between 1100 and 1500 at his residence the previous day. The pilot recall that he then left his residence, drove to KETB, and flew his airplane to KMTW. At KMTW, the pilot reported that he went to look for a restaurant, but did not leave the airport. He fueled his airplane and departed for KETB. At that time, the pilot reported not knowing how the accident had occurred.

At 0452 the pilot consented to blood alcohol testing. Specimens sent to the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene’s Toxicology Section were positive for alcohol with a result a 0.138 g/100 mL. On the consent form the pilot indicated that he had not drank any alcohol since the accident.

A subsequent interview of the pilot by the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s department revealed that the pilot admitted leaving the airport and purchasing a 12-pack container of beer during his stop at KMTW before fueling his airplane. The pilot stated that his planned route was to fly north over the Fox Valley before proceeding to KETB. The pilot recalled that the engine was performing normally. He also stated that he often does left and right turns in a zigzag fashion in order to see around the wings. The pilot estimated his altitude was between 3,500 and 4,000 feet msl. After the accident, the pilot remained in the inverted airplane and drank several beers. The pilot then decided to exit the airplane.

The pilot did not provide a completed NTSB Form 6120.1. A signed pilot statement, dated January 22, 2012, provided to the pilot’s insurance company, recalled that while maneuvering with a dark horizon, the navigation lights/instrument lights blew out. While looking for a flashlight, the airplane entered a nose low unusual attitude. The pilot attempted to use his cell phone to illuminate the attitude indicator and recover from the unusual attitude. The pilot reported that he turned the landing and taxi lights on in an attempt to restore cockpit lighting. The pilot was unable to visual orientate himself and the airplane collided with trees.

An examination of the airplane revealed that the light bulb used to illuminate the cockpit instrumentation was burned out.

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