NTSB Identification: LAX97LA013.
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Accident occurred Saturday, October 12, 1996 in SAN DIEGO, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/15/1997
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-181, registration: N2501X
Injuries: 2 Serious.

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

According to information from the flying club that had operational control of the airplane, the airplane was taken without permission by a student pilot, who was a former member of the club. A police report was filed. Later, an investigation revealed that the student had taken the airplane after attending a party where he met his passenger. At about 0045 PDT, the student took off on a night flight. After about 2.7 hours of flight time, the airplane collided with high tension power lines, which were strung diagonally across a major city freeway. The accident site was 1.5 miles from the departure airport, and the power lines were about 75 feet above the pavement. The 0315 PDT weather at the airport was in part: 400 feet overcast, visibility 3 miles with fog, and wind calm. A toxicology test of the pilot's blood (drawn shortly after the accident) showed an alcohol level of 80 mg/dl (0.08%). Witnesses indicated that the pilot had been drinking beer at a party until almost midnight.

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

the student pilot's impairment of judgment and performance due to alcohol, his subsequent flight into adverse weather conditions, and his failure to maintain clearance from obstructions (power lines). Factors related to the accident were: darkness, low ceiling, and fog.

Full narrative available

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