NTSB Identification: LAX97FA089.
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Accident occurred Monday, January 13, 1997 in MT SAN JACINTO, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/26/1998
Aircraft: Beech F33A, registration: N31706
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.

After takeoff, the pilot requested radar flight following service for his flight from Torrance through the Banning Pass to Palm Springs. Clouds were present in the Banning Pass area. At 1435:21, while proceeding at 7,600 feet in an easterly direction, the pilot asked the controller 'we on course through the Banning Pass?' The controller responded at 1435:26 and informed the pilot '. . . you're not through the Banning Pass but the Banning Pass is at eleven o'clock and eight miles.' There were no further communications from the pilot. The airplane continued cruising about 7,600 feet (mode C transponder altitude) on an east-northeasterly course until impacting terrain about 3.5 miles from the western side of Mt San Jacinto (peak elevation: 10,804 feet). Elevation of the crash site was 7,650 feet. A handheld type GPS receiver was found in the wreckage, and it was functionally tested. Extracted data revealed the GPS receiver had been operating during the accident flight. It had accurately recorded the airplane's flight track and indicated the airplane's last location within 1/2 mile of the crash site. The pilot was familiar with the southern California area.

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

continued VFR flight by the pilot into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), and his failure to maintain proper altitude or clearance from mountainous terrain. Factors relating to the accident were: the high/mountainous terrain, and the adverse weather condition (low ceiling/clouds).

Full narrative available

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