NTSB Identification: LAX96LA048.
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Accident occurred Saturday, November 18, 1995 in IMPERIAL, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/03/1996
Aircraft: Cessna 150H, registration: N23102
Injuries: 1 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 airport elevation is 56 feet below sea level. In the pilot's navigation logs under the destination airport field elevation column, '-56' was entered with '(950alt)' written next to it. The traffic pattern altitude is listed as '944 msl (1,000 agl)' in the airport facility directory. The FBO line person who communicated with the pilot observed the first landing approach and reported that it appeared to be a little high. The aircraft then initiated a go-around and made right traffic for runway 32. Ground witnesses reported that during the aircraft's traffic pattern following the go-around, the aircraft flew an extremely low pattern estimated at 100 feet agl. The pilot then contacted the FBO line person on the radio a second time. The witness stated that the pilot seemed confused about the traffic pattern altitude and airport elevation. She reportedly ask what the field elevation was, and the witness responded with 60 feet below sea level. The witness stated that the pilot responded, 'I thought it was about 900 feet.' The pilot then terminated the second approach with another go-around. According to the witnesses, the third traffic pattern was flown about the same agl altitude as the second one. Shortly after the pilot reported turning base, the power went off at the airport. A ground witness near the accident site saw the aircraft turn at a very low altitude and collide with a 40-foot-tall power pole about 1/2 mile southeast of the airport. Detailed examination of the aircraft revealed no discrepancies in any system. Review of the sun's location revealed that as the pilot turned from downwind to base, she would have been looking almost directly into the sun.

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

the student pilot's misreading of the altimeter while in the traffic pattern, which put the aircraft in dangerous proximity to the ground and obstructions. A factor in the accident was the pilot's inability to see the power pole due to sun glare as the aircraft turned onto base from downwind.

Full narrative available

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