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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: ERA12FA467
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 20, 2012 in Cedartown, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/13/2013
Aircraft: BRENHOLT LARRY R RV-4, registration: N25UA
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 pilot departed on a cross-country visual flight rules flight. It is unknown whether he obtained a weather briefing before the flight. About an hour and a half after departing, he encountered instrument meteorological conditions. Witnesses described hearing the airplane, but they could not see the airplane due to the inclement weather. The airplane impacted the ground in a left-wing-low and nose-down attitude, indicating that the airplane likely stalled. Based on the witness descriptions of the airplane circling above, it is likely that the pilot was trying to navigate out of the inclement weather, did not maintain airspeed, and lost control. Examination of the airplane wreckage revealed no mechanical failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operations.

The accident site was located within an area covered by an AIRMET for instrument flight rules conditions due to ceilings below 1,000 feet above ground level (agl) and for visibility less than 3 miles. The location was also immediately south of the boundary for a convective SIGMET for an area of embedded thunderstorms moving southeasterly at 20 knots with cloud tops to 45,000 feet agl. Witnesses reported low ceilings, rain, and fog at the time of the accident.

Although venlafaxine, which can cause drowsiness, weakness, or dizziness, was found in the pilot’s blood, the levels were such that the investigation was unable to determine if the pilot was impaired at the time of the accident. The investigation also did not determine if he was affected by the underlying psychiatric disorder this medication would have been used to treat.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The non-instrument-rated pilot's continued visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions and his failure to maintain airspeed while maneuvering for a forced landing, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and collision with terrain.