NTSB Identification: LAX95FA062
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, December 27, 1994 in HOLTVILLE, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/27/1995
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-140, registration: N4647R
Injuries: 2 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.

WITNESSES HEARD THE ACCIDENT PILOT CALLING ON THE UNICOM FREQUENCY. HE SOUNDED AS THOUGH HE WAS HAVING DIFFICULTY LOCATING THE AIRPORT, SO ANOTHER PILOT IN HIS VICINITY SUGGESTED THAT THE ACCIDENT PILOT FOLLOW HIS AIRCRAFT TO THE AIRPORT. THE ACCIDENT PILOT AGREED, BUT AFTER THE OTHER PILOT ARRIVED AT THE AIRPORT THE ACCIDENT PILOT STILL FAILED TO LAND. WITNESSES HEARD HIM SAY THAT HE WAS LOW ON FUEL AND THAT HE WOULD HAVE TO DO SOMETHING. THE PILOT SAID HE COULD NOT FIND THE AIRPORT, BUT WOULD LAND ON THE HIGHWAY IF NECESSARY. THE PILOT REPORTED THAT HE WAS SWITCHING TANKS FOLLOWED BY 'WE'RE GOING TO CRASH, WE'RE GOING TO CRASH, WE'RE CRASHING.' A WITNESS REPORTED THAT THE AIRCRAFT ATTEMPTED A LANDING ON THE INTERSTATE, BUT THEN BEGAN A CLIMBING RIGHT TURN UNTIL IT BEGAN A DESCENT AND CRASHED. THE WITNESS SPOTTED FLAMES AND IMMEDIATELY RAN TO THE LOCATION. HE DESCRIBED THE WEATHER AT THE ACCIDENT SITE AS CLEAR BUT VERY DARK.

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

the pilot's becoming lost/disoriented during a night cross- country flight at a time the flight was in a critical low fuel state, and his failure to maintain aircraft control during a go-around from an aborted precautionary landing. Factors in the accident were: 1) the pilot's inadequate inflight fuel consumption calculations; 2) his failure to refuel the aircraft; 3) his failure to use all available FAA resources once the critical flight state became apparent; 4) spatial disorientation; and 5) darkness.

Full narrative available

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