Report: Pilot in fatal Shelby County crash was disoriented by clouds
SHELBY COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - A report by the National Transportation Safety Board stated that a fatal plane crash near Center on May 20 was caused by its non-instrument-rated pilot flying into clouds and getting disoriented before he lost control.
“The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The non-instrument-rated pilot’s intentional flight into instrument meteorological conditions (clouds) which resulted in spatial disorientation and an inflight loss of control.”
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the pilot and his passenger were both killed in the crash. They were identified as 73-year-old John D. Scull and 81-year-old Carolyn Hooker Scull, both of Tenaha.
The single-engine Cessna 206 crashed about a quarter-mile south of the Center Municipal Airport, a press release from the Federal Aviation Administration stated.
“The plane was destroyed on impact,” the FAA press release stated.
According to the NTSB report, the airplane’s impact drove it deep into the ground.
“Due to impact damage and distortion, a detailed examination of the wreckage could not be accomplished,” the report stated. “Of the portions examined, no anomalies were detected with the air frame and engine which would have precluded normal operation of the airplane.”
The NTSB report stated the plane left Astronaut Kent Rominger Airport in Del Norte, Colorado, at about 9:20 a.m. on May 20. John Scull stopped at the Gainesville Airport in Texas and bought 65 gallons of fuel before he took off at about 2:40 p.m. on May 20 and headed toward the Center Municipal Airport.
Flight data showed that the Cessna maneuvered around the Center Municipal Airport several times, including one approach to the runway. During its approach to the runway, the airplane made a 180-degree right turn about a quarter-mile southeast of the runway and started descending.
“Witnesses on the ground saw the airplane in a vertical nose-low attitude with a loud engine noise as the airplane descended and impacted the ground,” the NTSB report stated.
According to the NTSB report, a review of weather information for the Center Municipal Airport on May 20 showed that there was an overcast ceiling at about 1,500 feet, and the cloud tops were near 3,5000 feet mean sea level. There was a potential for moderate turbulence below 3,000 feet.
The NTSB report also stated that there was no evidence John Scull received a weather briefing before the flight. In addition, the Center Municipal Airport was closed 44 days before the crash, and a “Notice to Airman was published and available.”
The airport’s automated weather reporting facility was turned off and not broadcasting weather information, the NTSB report stated.
“Investigators did not determine if the pilot was aware the airport was closed,” the NTSB report stated.
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