NTSB Identification: LAX97FA210.
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Accident occurred Thursday, June 12, 1997 in TOPANGA, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/10/1998
Aircraft: Cessna 210K, registration: N8276M
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.

The noninstrument-rated pilot was familiar with the Los Angeles basin area. The weather was overcast with tops reported in excess of 5,600 feet. The pilot was receiving radar flight following service as he descended in a southerly direction toward his destination, and he informed the controller that he was 'looking for a hole.' The pilot then requested a special VFR clearance through the clouds; a request which was denied by the controller. Upon reaching 6,000 feet, he headed toward the ocean, informed the controller that he observed a 'little hole,' and requested that the controller monitor his progress 'in case I do have to go in.' The controller advised the pilot to maintain VFR. The pilot continued descending and reported that it was hazy, he was still VFR, and he thought he could make it. At 1211:47, the controller informed the pilot that he would be losing radar coverage because the airplane was descending below the mountain range. The pilot acknowledged the transmission at 1211:55. Radar data indicated at the time the airplane was descending through about 2,700 feet; its ground speed was 163 knots; and it was tracking 103 degrees toward the airport. Thirteen seconds later radar contact was lost. The airplane impacted the mountainside at 2440 feet, on a 101-degree bearing and 10 miles from Santa Monica, in a nearly level, 20-degree banked turn. A patrolling sheriff's officer indicated that at the time clouds obscured the mountainside.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain proper VFR altitude over mountainous terrain obscured by clouds, and his intentional descent into instrument meteorological weather conditions.

Full narrative available

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