Last updated: 24 September 2022
Narrative:A Beechcraft B200 King Air, N24CV, owned and operated by the pilot, was presumed destroyed during ditching into the Pacific Ocean about 160 miles southwest of San Diego, California. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, received minor injuries.
The flight originated at Parker, Arizona, about 17:54, and was destined for Palomar, California. The pilot was receiving VFR advisories from SOCAL Tracon en route to Palomar. The pilot became nauseous en route and began to vomit. At 1838, he advised SOCAL that he was sick and radio contact was lost. He reported that he had removed his headset and turned on the external speaker. The airplane had descended from 16,500 feet msl and was on an established course to the destination. It was level at 10,500 feet msl and being flown by the autopilot. As the vomiting became nonproductive the pilot became light headed. The last thing that he recalled was approaching "ESCON," an intersection on the landing approach to Palomar. When the pilot regained consciousness he looked outside the airplane to determine where he was. The surface was obscured in cloud cover. On his left side was a Navy F-18 fighter plane. The F-18 pilot was communicating by hand signals, asking if he was ok, and indicated he should turn around towards land. The accident pilot determined that he was 186 nautical miles southwest of his destination, and over the ocean. He disconnected the autopilot and started a right-hand turn to reverse his course. After reversing course and checking his instruments, he determined that he was very low on fuel and did not have enough to make his destination. The pilot repeatedly attempted contact with Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (SOCAL), but without success. Another aircraft on the coast responded and stated that they would relay the pilot's message to SOCAL. The pilot declared a medical emergency and advised that he would not be able to return to land.
Within 10 minutes the fuel onboard was exhausted and the pilot configured the airplane for the best angle of glide and ditching at sea. Subsequently, the pilot descended through low stratus and ditched the airplane in the ocean at dusk, about 19:45, on the Mission Bay Vortac 237-degree radial at 160 miles.
The pilot exited the airplane with a hand held VHF radio, two flashlights, a cell phone, and a trash bag for flotation, and climbed onto the top of the fuselage to await rescue. At this time it was dark. He verified that his emergency locator transmitter was operating with his VHF radio. After about 30 minutes, a Navy S-3B circled the area. After the third circle of the area the search plane saw the pilot's flashlight and circled the downed plane until a rescue helicopter arrived. A Navy frogman was dropped into the water and subsequently the pilot was hoisted onboard the helicopter.
While at the pilot's Arizona residence, earlier that day, he had sprayed for bugs and insects using a pesticide "Dursban." During the process he opened the container to replenish the pesticide and the built-up pressure sprayed the vapors into his face. After cleaning himself up he departed for the airport and the return to Palomar. During the flight he ate some food that he had brought onboard, and shortly thereafter, became sick in flight. The Environmental Protection Agency, as of June 8, 2000, has banned Dursban from the commercial market.
Probable Cause:PROBABLE CAUSE: "Physical incapacitation of the pilot from improper handling of a pesticide."
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not
display the exact flight path.
Distance from Parker Airport, AZ to Carlsbad-McClellan-Palomar Airport, CA as the crow flies is 299 km (187 miles).