Drugged Civil Air Patrol Pilot Destroyed Cessna Skylane

Civil Air Patrol pilot crashes under influence of Zoloft
Civil Air Patrol pilot crashes under influence of Zoloft

By Harold Chasen | AuxBeacon News Contributor

I’m disgusted with Louisiana Wing’s current and past leadership. You’ve done a good job with the older stories on Lee Harvey Oswald, David Ferrie and Barry Seal, but I have more current tales to tell. Before we get to them, I looked on your site and there is no mention of the January 2005 accident in which two Civil Air Patrol pilots killed themselves and destroyed CAP1630, a Cessna Skylane with registration N9474E.

Please add this information to your Civil Air Patrol Flying.

The Event

On 10 January 2005, two Civil Air Patrol pilots took off from Louisiana’s Monroe Regional Airport on a dark night in order to shoot a number of practice instrument approaches in VFR conditions. The 54 year old pilot who was believed to be sitting in the left seat and shooting the approaches was not instrument current at the time. An 80 year old pilot sat right seat. After shooting the first approach, and just after being cleared for the second, the crew was advised that the ceiling had become 900 feet broken and that the field was then IFR. When queried by the controller, the crew said they wanted to continue their series of approaches via an IFR clearance.

During the second approach they had trouble intercepting the localizer, and although they had by that time decided to make the next landing a full-stop, because they could not get established on the localizer, they eventually had to execute a missed approach. During the next approach they again had trouble getting established on the localizer, and when advised that they had a C130 following them on an approach for landing, the crew requested another missed approach.

During that missed approach, while making a climbing turn in order to be repositioned for another approach, the flying pilot lost control of the aircraft, which descended into the waters of a shallow water collection pond/swamp.

Probable Cause and Findings

On March 28, 2006 the National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The failure of the pilot manipulating the controls to maintain aircraft control during a night missed approach in instrument meteorological conditions. Factors include a dark night and low ceilings.

But wait, there’s more! I remember reading your story on the NTSB toxicology report for the Civil Air Patrol pilot who took morphine while in flight, so I now I always look for the details. Here’s what is not stated in the Probable Cause Summary.

No CAP Pilot Logbook

The number of night hours, instrument hours, and approaches completed by the pilot assumed to be in the right seat could not be determined, as his personal log book was not located during the investigation, and CAP records did not record this data.

Toxicology Tests Finds Drugs Incompatible with Flying

The toxicology on the flying pilot assumed to be in the left seat was positive for Sertraline and Desmethylsertraline in both the liver and Kidneys. According to FAA’s Southwest Regional Flight Surgeon, Sertraline (Zoloft) is an antidepressant medication, and Desmethylsertraline represents a metabolite of Sertraline. The flight surgeon further stated that use of this medication would have precluded medical certification of this pilot had it been reported to a medical examiner. He also said that any pilot who was already certified would have been warned not to fly while taking this medication, had an examiner become aware that the pilot was doing so.

As a follow-up on the toxicology, the Investigator-In-Charge (IIC) contacted the sister of this pilot, who stated that this individual had been taking about 50 mg of Zoloft per day for about the previous three months. According to her, her brother was involved in a child custody dispute that had caused him significant anxiety, and he had started taking this medication in order to help deal with that situation. She further stated that she was not sure where he had acquired the medication, but that she was unaware of any prescription being written by a

There is no mention of the Civil Air Patrol Pilot drug usage in this training slide.

Civil Air Patrol pilot drug use
No mention of the Civil Air Patrol pilot’s use of drugs in this training slide.

But wait, there’s more!

The last line from the above Civil Air Patrol briefing slide tells the reader that “Instruments and vacuum pump were healthy.”

Yet in the AIRCRAFT INFORMATION section of the NTSB’s final report, the pilot who was assumed to be flying in the right seat mentioned in November 2004 that it appeared that the vertical compass in this aircraft would stick at times, and during those times it would be temporarily off from the correct heading about 10 to 30 degrees. He also stated that the directional gyro was occasionally slow to move. He reportedly mentioned that he was going to take the aircraft to Monroe Air Center to have them look at the directional gyro and the vertical compass since he thought they still might be under warranty.

But, according to Monroe Air Center, they were not asked to address either of these apparent discrepancies, and neither discrepancy was noted on the Aircraft Discrepancy Form for N9474E.

Once you get this story up and diced into parts in the correct time frame, I will show you what has transpired since.

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