The NTSB has published
a final report in the crash of an unregistered RANS S-12XL that
took the life of it's pilot on January 6th, 2003. The Laramie, WY,
crash was listed by the NTSB as caused by the pilot. The final
report notes that the pilot failed to properly control the aircraft
and ultimately stalled the aircraft, leading to a fatal impact.
However; the NTSB listed some pretty "difficult" contributing
factors including the use of an over-the-counter antihistamine and
the pilot's decision to fly at low altitude. There are some
poignant lessons in this accident....
NTSB Final Summary
The ultra light was observed flying over a city park at a very
low altitude and very slow. Several witnesses in the park reported
that the pilot waved at them and was smiling. One witness said the
aircraft's wings rocked several times, its nose pointed at the
ground, it rotated to the right, and it crashed. No preimpact
engine or airframe anomalies were identified that might have
affected the airplane's performance. Toxicological analysis on two
different specimens of the pilot's blood performed at two different
locations indicated two substantially different levels of ethanol.
No other specimens were tested for ethanol. The pilot's autopsy was
conducted 3 days following the accident, and it is not possible to
determine conclusively whether the ethanol reported is from
ingestion or post-mortem production. A half-full bottle of alcohol
was found in the pilot's vehicle. Toxicology examination also
revealed high levels of diphenhydramine, an over-the-counter
antihistamine with sedative effects, often known by the trade name
Benadryl. The pilot had been prescribed a low dose of Effexor
(venlafaxine), a prescription antidepressant medication.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the
probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
the pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control, resulting
in an inadvertent stall/mush. Contributing factors include the
pilot's use of an over-the-counter antihistamine, and the pilot's
inadequate in-flight decision to fly at low altitude.