NTSB Identification: LAX99FA077.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, January 19, 1999 in CHINO, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/12/2000
Aircraft: Beech F35, registration: N3364C
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The departure was planned for about 0430. No record was found that the pilot obtained a preflight weather briefing through an FAA or NWS source. Surrounding airports were reporting cloud coverage in the area of the accident site between 700 and 1,000 feet above ground level, with visibility's 3 miles or less. A terminal forecast for the area predicted visibility of 3 miles in mist, temporarily 1 mile in mist, between 0400 and 0600. An airmet was in effect for ceilings below 1,000 feet and visibility 3 miles in fog and mist for the departure area. The airmet noted occasional ceilings below 1,000 feet and visibility less than 3 miles in fog and precipitation for portions of the en route phase and at the destination. Mountain obscuration in clouds and precipitation was also forecasted. The departure airport was surrounded by hilly terrain with tops 1,000 to 3,000 feet above the airport elevation. Recorded radar data tracked the airplane from 500 feet agl to the accident site at 1,112 feet msl (about 600 feet above the airport). The airplane was climbing and completed one 360-degree turn, achieving 2,500 feet msl. The turn continued in a much tighter radius and the airplane lost 500 feet of altitude. The airplane completed one more turn as it continued to descend to impact about 3 miles west of the airport. The most conservative weight and balance computation placed the airplane 241.2 pounds over maximum allowable gross weight with a CG location 2.57 inches aft of the rear limit. No discrepancies were found with the airplane or engine upon inspection. The pilot did not possess an instrument rating.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's intentional flight into known instrument meteorological conditions in hilly terrain and his failure to maintain aircraft control due to spatial disorientation. Factors were the pilot's inadequate evaluation of the weather conditions, dark night conditions and the poor weather conditions.

Full narrative available

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