NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The noninstrument-rated commercial pilot departed on a cross-country positioning flight in an airplane that was not equipped for instrument flying. GPS data showed that, after entering an area of low cloud ceiling (700 to 1,000 ft above ground level) and visibility (below 3 miles with precipitation and mist), the airplane made two 90° descending left turns in less than 2 minutes. There was no record that the pilot received a preflight weather briefing.
The airplane wreckage was found the next morning about 1/2 mile from the location of the second turn, and examination of the wreckage revealed that the airplane was oriented with the right wing down when it impacted terrain. Examination of the airplane revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures.
Analysis of weather information revealed that deteriorating weather conditions with low ceilings existed in the area at the time of the accident, which occurred in dark night conditions in which there would have been no visible horizon. These restricted visibility conditions would have been conducive to the development of spatial disorientation, and the airplane’s maneuvering, unusual attitude, and high-velocity impact are consistent with the effects of spatial disorientation. It is likely the pilot experienced spatial disorientation after entering the deteriorating weather conditions, which led to a loss of airplane control.