A pilot who lost control while taking selfies was likely the cause of a small plane crash that killed two men this past spring, according to US federal investigators.
Pilot Amritpal Singh, 29, and his passenger were killed instantly when Singh’s Cessna 150K crashed into a wheat field shortly after midnight May 31. The wreckage was discovered around 7am local time that morning.
A GoPro camera mounted to the plane’s windshield recorded Singh and several other passengers taking selfies on their mobile phones during a series of short flights before the crash, the US National Transportation Safety Board found. While the GoPro didn’t record the flight where Singh crashed, investigators portrayed a pattern of the pilot taking selfies and possibly texting while giving rides to passengers above Front Range Airport, about 40 kilometres east of Denver.
“During the climb-out portion of flight, the pilot uses his mobile phone to take a self photograph. The camera’s flash was activated and illuminated the cockpit area,” NTSB investigators reported. “During the climb-out phase, the pilot was seen making keyboard entries to his cell phone and additional keyboard entries on a portion of flight consistent with the downwind leg.”
Singh landed safely after that flight, picked up another passenger, and took off again, crashing a few minutes later.
NTSB investigators said the evidence suggests that Singh got distracted, then disoriented, stalled the plane, and crashed. Singh also lacked certification for flying at night with instruments and for carrying passengers at night.
“It is likely that mobile phone use during the accident flight distracted the pilot and contributed to the development of special disorientation and subsequent loss of control,” the NTSB said.