August 13, 2010, Key West, Fla., Cessna 172R


At 2110 Eastern time, the airplane collided with the Atlantic Ocean while maneuvering in closed traffic. Visual conditions prevailed. The airplane received substantial damage. The non-instrument rated private pilot received serious injuries.

The crew of an inbound flight overheard the accident pilot advise an approach controller he would be conducting touch-and-go landings. The crew coordinated with the accident pilot and informed him they would be first for the runway. The crew observed the airplane on TCAS and visually, noting its landing light was reflecting off the water. About 10 seconds later, the light went out and the flight was no longer showing on TCAS. The crew later noted there was very little moonlight and “a turn to the south with no light on the horizon can cause severe vertigo and disorientation.”


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