ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 44600
Last updated: 25 January 2015
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Narrative:The private pilot was on a visual flight rules (VFR) night flight over a sparsely populated area; the airplane crashed about 9 miles from the departure airport. Wreckage and impact information was consistent with a steep-angle, high-speed descent. No evidence of mechanical malfunction was observed. Weather conditions included mid to high-level cloud coverage with ceilings broken at 2,200 feet above ground level and overcast at 3,400 feet above ground level. Moon phase was a waning crescent with 11 percent of visible disk illuminated. Review of these data by a Safety Board senior meteorologist revealed that the moon was below the horizon at the time of the accident and would have been obscured by the mid to high-level cloud cover. According to FAA advisory circular (AC) 60-4A "Pilot's Spatial Disorientation," "Surface references and the natural horizon may at times become obscured, although visibility may be above visual flight rule minimums. Lack of natural horizon or surface reference is common ... especially at night in extremely sparsely populated areas or in low visibility conditions. A sloping cloud formation, an obscured horizon, a dark scene spread with ground lights and stars, and certain geometric patterns of ground lights can provide inaccurate visual information for aligning the aircraft correctly with the actual horizon. The disoriented pilot may place the aircraft in a dangerous attitude." CAUSE: The pilot's loss of control of the airplane due to spatial disorientation, which resulted in an uncontrolled descent and collision with trees and the ground. A factor was the dark night conditions.
|Owner/operator:||James Melvin Strom|
|C/n / msn:|| 28-7990474|
|Fatalities:||Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4|
|Airplane damage:|| Written off (damaged beyond repair)|
|Location:||Bradley, SC -
United States of America
|Phase:|| En route|
|Departure airport:||McCormick, SC (KS19)|
|Destination airport:||Greenwood, SC (KGRD)|
Number of views: 976