NTSB Identification: LAX97LA131.
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Accident occurred Sunday, March 23, 1997 in PENN VALLEY, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/07/1998
Aircraft: Zenair 601, registration: N4073T
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.
No witnesses observed the aircraft when it impacted terrain in a pasture. A witness who lives about 1 mile from the accident site reported that the aircraft's engine was cutting out as it flew over his location. Another witness, inside his home near the accident site, did not hear the engine at all; he reported hearing only a whoosh and a thump. The pilot purchased the aircraft 7 months prior and this was his first flight in the aircraft. He had not had any checkout, and according to his logbook, had not piloted an aircraft in the previous 4 months. The last maintenance entry in the aircraft logbook was an annual inspection performed 18 months prior. A toxicology analysis performed by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute detected impairing amounts of the drug Diphenhydramine in the pilot's blood and urine.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: Loss of engine power for undetermined reasons. Factors in the accident were the pilot's lack of recent experience, lack of experience in the type aircraft, and physical impairment due to drugs. Full narrative available
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