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 private pilot was returning from a short cross-country flight. He radioed the tower controller and reported inbound; however, he stated that he had a problem with the rudder and he wanted to "play" with it a bit. The pilot declined any assistance from the controller. About 1 1/2 minutes later, the airplane disappeared from radar, and the pilot did not respond to radio calls. The wreckage was located about 5 miles northeast of the airport in a vacant field. The airframe and rudder controls were partially fragmented on impact. The examination of the rudder controls and wreckage did not reveal any preimpact abnormities.
During the investigation, it was noted that the pilot wore an orthopedic-type shoe with an extended spring-like heel. Due to the fragmentation of the rudder controls, the investigation was unable to determine if an object, such as the pilot's shoe, became wedged under or between the rudder pedals, which could have led the pilot to become distracted. Although diphenhydramine, a potentially impairing medication, was detected during toxicological testing, it could not be determined what effect, if any, this had on the pilot’s ability to control the airplane.