NTSB Identification: LAX96LA040.
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Accident occurred Saturday, November 04, 1995 in PLACERVILLE, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/08/1997
Aircraft: Cessna 180, registration: N3358D
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airplane approached an open field at tree-top level and struck a 34-foot utility pole about 6 feet from its top, then it burst into flames and crashed in the field. A friend of the pilot who was operating a tractor in the field saw the airplane at low altitude. He stated that the pilot had buzzed him in the past, and he thought that the pilot intended to buzz him again. A representative from the aircraft manufacturer flew over the same route, under similar weather conditions, and at about the same altitude and time of day. He reported (to the investigator) that he had difficulty seeing the lines and poles due to sun glare and similar color terrain, although he knew their location. Also, ground witnesses noted that the tractor was generating dust near the pole at the time of the accident. Toxicology tests of the pilot's blood showed 0.027 mcg/ml Temazepam (a short-term sleep aid), and a low level of Temazepam was detected in his urine. Also, a low level of Oxazepam (a metabolite of Temazepam) was detected in the pilot's blood and urine. Previous studies of Temazepam blood levels suggest that at least 24 hours had elapsed since the pilot had last utilized the drug; thus, the drug was unlikely to have affected the pilot's performance.

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

the pilot's intentional buzzing, his failure to identify an obstruction (inadequate visual lookout), and his failure to maintain adequate altitude/clearance from the obstruction (utility pole). Factors relating to the accident were: dust generated by farm machinery and sun glare, which reduced the pilot's ability to visually detect the obstruction.

Full narrative available

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