Plane crash blamed on in-flight SELFIES

Investigators say pilot distraction led to stall and two deaths

Sopwith Pup RC Plane trench level view

The USA's National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB's) investigation into a 2014 light plane crash has come to the conclusion that the pilot may well have been distracted by selfie-taking passengers.

The crash killed two people last May when a Cessna 150 came to grief in Colorado after “... the pilot experienced spatial disorientation and lost control of the airplane” causing “aerodynamic stall and subsequent spin into terrain.”

The flight took place at night, one factor in the disorientation. But NTSB investigators also found a GoPro camera among the wreckage and were able to retrieve files from its memory card. Those files did not depict the fatal flight, but did show flights from the day of the accident and the previous day in which “... the pilot and various passengers were taking self-photographs with their cell phones and, during the night flight, using the camera’s flash function during the takeoff roll, initial climb, and flight in the traffic pattern.”

Investigation of the crash suggest “it is likely that cell phone use during the accident flight distracted the pilot and contributed to the development of spatial disorientation and subsequent loss of control.”

The NTSB's concluding statement on the incident is as follows:

“The pilot’s loss of control and subsequent aerodynamic stall due to spatial disorientation in night instrument meteorological conditions. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s distraction due to his cell phone use while maneuvering at low-altitude.”


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