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Pilot taking selfies 'likely factor' in fatal plane crash

The pilot and only passenger died in the crash last year.

Image: AP Photo/Adams County Sheriff's Department, Sgt. Aaron Pataluna, ,File

SELFIES WERE A likely factor in a small plane crash near Denver, United States last year that killed the pilot and his only passenger, according to a new National Transportation Safety Board report.

The report, released last week, said recordings from a GoPro camera that escaped damage and had been mounted on the Cessna 150K’s instrument panel show the pilot and other passengers repeatedly taking photographs of themselves with their mobile phones, even using the flash, during several previous short flights in the hours leading up to the May 31 crash.

Although there was no video of the deadly flight, evidence of the pilot’s previous cellphone use that day makes it likely that phone use contributed to his disorientation and loss of control, investigators concluded.

Eric Weiss, an NTSB spokesman, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that one of the agency’s priorities this year is calling attention to the dangers of a variety of distractions, whether in the air or on the ground.

“Selfies would be by definition distraction,” Weiss said, adding pilots are advised to restrict activities and conversation to the task at hand when they are at the controls.

The May crash killed 29-year-old pilot Amritpal Singh of Aurora and his passenger shortly after they took off from Front Range Airport in Adams County on a night flight. The wreckage was found in a wheat field about a mile west of the airport.

NTSB investigators said they did not find evidence Singh had met requirements to fly at night with passengers. He did hold a commercial pilot certificate and had more than 700 hours of flying time.

Read: AirAsia black box records warning alarms “screaming” before crash >

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