NTSB Identification: LAX97FA044.
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Accident occurred Sunday, November 17, 1996 in GILROY, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/31/1997
Aircraft: Cessna 152, registration: N48737
Injuries: 1 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.
No record was found of the pilot obtaining a preflight or in-flight weather briefing. An AIRMET valid during the period of the flight forecasted mountain obscuration and IFR conditions in the accident area. The instrument rated pilot flew a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country flight over mountainous terrain in marginal weather conditions. The aircraft collided with a coastal mountain ridge at the 1,940 foot level; the coastal mountain range was the last terrain feature before the pilot's destination. Review of the pilot's logbook revealed he lacked the recency of experience to fly in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) under instrument flight rules (IFR). The accident site was obscured by low ceilings during the accident time and subsequently impeded search and rescue operations. Toxicology tests of the pilot's blood and urine detected theophylline (a drug commonly used to treat asthma) at levels of 2.2 mcg/ml and 22.5 mcg/ml, respectively. Also, undetermined levels of ephedrine and phenylopropanolamine (over-th-counter decongestants) were detected in his blood and urine, and an undetermined level of hydrochlorothiazide (a drug commonly used to treat high blood pressure) was detected in his blood.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: flight by the pilot into into adverse weather conditions, and his failure to maintain altitude or clearance from mountainous terrain. The adverse weather and terrain conditions were related factors. Full narrative available
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