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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 168833
Last updated: 4 June 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic COL3 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Lancair LC-40-550FG Columbia 300
Owner/operator:River Bend Energy Llc
Registration: N6500Z
MSN: 40040
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:0.4nm NE of Cook Canyon Ranch Airport (TA25), Ranger, TX -   United States of America
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:Ranger, TX (TA25)
Destination airport:
Investigating agency: NTSB
The instrument-rated private pilot and two passengers departed from the remote airport on a dark, moonless night. Two witnesses reported observing the airplane take off from the lighted runway and then turn right. The airplane's bank angle then slowly increased to about 90 degrees, and the airplane subsequently descended. The airplane impacted terrain 0.4 mile from the departure end of the runway. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

Several highly experienced, full-time pilots departed the same airport before and after the accident airplane. These pilots described the flight conditions on departure as "extremely dark" and "like a black hole" with no ground lighting, moon, or stars in view to aid with visual orientation. The pilot's night flying currency was limited; his last night flight, flown with a flight instructor, occurred 11 months before the accident; he was also not current to fly at night with passengers. The majority of the pilot's night flying experience (about 24 total hours) took place in a large metropolitan area with high levels of ground lighting; therefore, the pilot's night and instrument flying experience (about 3 hours overall) was likely not sufficient to operate safely in the challenging dark night conditions that existed during the accident flight. An iPad, which displayed mapping information, was likely positioned in front of the right seat passenger. This location may have contributed to the pilot initially overbanking to the right as he may have turned to look at the map just after takeoff. Based on the dark night conditions and the lack of visual references at the time of the accident and the pilot's low overall night and instrument flight time and his lack of recent night flight experience, it is likely that he became spatially disoriented, which led to his loss of airplane control and the subsequent descent into terrain.

Probable Cause: The pilot's loss of airplane control shortly after takeoff as a result of spatial disorientation due to dark night conditions, the pilot's low overall night and instrument flight time, and his lack of recent night flights.


FAA register:


Revision history:

17-Aug-2014 16:32 gerard57 Added
17-Aug-2014 17:34 gerard57 Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Source]
17-Aug-2014 18:12 Geno Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Location, Phase, Departure airport, Source]
24-Aug-2014 16:37 Aerossurance Updated [Time, Location, Source, Narrative]
21-Dec-2016 19:28 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
30-Nov-2017 19:01 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Other fatalities, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]

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