NTSB Identification: LAX97LA211.
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Accident occurred Saturday, June 14, 1997 in GUALALA, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/15/1997
Aircraft: Maule M-4-220C, registration: N40654
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airport manager reported that conditions of low clouds and fog existed at the airport at the time of the accident, and the sun was not visible. The tops of the trees, which surround the airport, were in the clouds. Visibility was about 1/4 mile. There was an area of blue sky visible north of the airport. The aircraft approached from the north to the 2,500-foot-long runway, but overshot the approach and was unable to land. The pilot applied full engine power and started a go-around. The airport manager reported losing sight of the aircraft in the fog, but he heard it maneuvering near the airport until he heard the sound of an impact. The pilot indicated that he maneuvered the airplane onto a base leg; then realized he was too low and added power. The engine responded after 'some hesitation,' then the airplane impacted trees and crashed. The 14-year-old passenger reported that they entered the clouds as they circled the airport, and she could only see the ground intermittently. She briefly saw trees, the pilot called 'hang on,' then they crashed. Another witness reported the visibility was about 100 feet under overcast clouds.

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 sufficient altitude/clearance from tall trees. The weather conditions (low ceiling and fog) were related factors.

Full narrative available

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