NTSB Identification: LAX97LA128.
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Accident occurred Saturday, March 15, 1997 in SANTA BARBARA, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/21/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-140, registration: N7163R
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 an FAA inspector, an aircraft entered Santa Barbara's Class C airspace without authorization or communication from the control tower and proceeded to over-fly the airport. Subsequently, it crashed 3 miles east of the airport. A sheriff's deputy responded to the scene of the accident and reported that the pilot had requested in-flight refueling from the control tower. The sheriff's deputy also stated that the pilot was incoherent. The pilot was then involuntarily admitted for psychiatric observation. A subpoena was issued for the evaluation and discharge summary of the pilot. The attending psychiatrist reported that the pilot had a bipolar disorder. The pilot did not possess an FAA pilot certificate. He did, however, possess a third-class medical, issued on September 22, 1992, but it had been expired for 3 1/2 years at the time of the accident. The FAA inspector reported that no fuel was found onboard or in the vicinity of the wreckage, and that no preexisting anomalies were found.

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

the pilot's improper planning/decision, which resulted in loss of engine power, due to fuel exhaustion. His psychological condition was a related factor.

Full narrative available

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