Probable cause for the death of a pilot and his passenger in May of last year was released a few days ago, where the NTSB determined that the plane crashed due to the pilot succumbing to “spatial disorientation” and “revealed 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.” Therefore, “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.” Basically, the pilot and passenger were taking selfies on their cell phones, one flashed in the eye of the pilot, since it was dark and required camera flash apparently, and then lost control of the plane because of it. It’s official: selfies can actually kill.

The official report from the NTSB can be viewed here, but that about covers the “why” and “how” of the matter. The NTSB also found that the pilot didn’t have the flight hours required for a night flight either, likely the reason why he allowed his passengers to act as they did, and why he himself was unable to react to the situation properly.

Do I think that under normal circumstances with an experienced pilot that you should not take pictures of yourself in the sky? Absolutely not. Generally, it’s fine. What I do believe is this pilot was 1) not experienced and 2) acting completely irrationally and letting his passengers endanger themselves and himself. This is not about pilots as a whole, but about one really idiotic move by one inexperienced person in a cockpit.

[Via Quartz]