Distraction from taking self-portraits with a mobile phone (commonly known as ‘selfies’), most likely led to an accident that killed two people the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), has found.
The Cessna 150 crashed into an open field near Denver, Colorado on 31 May 2014 during night circuits. After one six-minute circuit and landing, the aircraft took off again but left the circuit and made a left turn that tightened into a spin.
‘The airplane impacted a field and bounced one time before it came to rest upright,’ the NTSB said.
A GoPro lightweight video camera found near the wreckage had recorded the six-minute flight before the crash flight. The NTSB said it showed, ‘that 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.’
The investigation found no pre-crash defects on the aircraft but noted that the pilot, aged 29, did not meet currency requirements for flight in instrument meteorological conditions or night flight with passengers.
While there was no GoPro video of the crash flight, the NTSB nevertheless concluded ‘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.’