NTSB Identification: LAX98FA050.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, December 02, 1997 in SEDONA, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/08/1999
Aircraft: Mooney M20J, registration: N301JL
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.

The area forecast was for VFR to MVFR conditions with occasional visibility reducing to 3 to 5 miles in mist. The 700 mb (10,000 feet MSL) Constant Pressure chart depicted Flagstaff as having northwesterly winds of approximately 25 knots. After checking the weather several times, the pilot departed Sedona (elevation 4,827 feet). No flight plan had been filed for the 21 mile northbound flight to Flagstaff. Dark night conditions existed at the time of the accident and there were no ground lights in the direction of flight. After takeoff, the northbound aircraft struck the leeward side of a 6,100-foot ridge, about the 5,952-foot level, and at a point located along a direct route to Flagstaff. The crash site was located bearing 019 degrees and 4.3 miles from the Sedona airport. Given the wind and mountainous terrain in the area of the accident, the influence of such winds would result in downslope wind conditions over the accident site.

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

the failure of the pilot to maintain adequate terrain clearance during the climb. Contributing factors were dark night conditions, mountainous/hilly terrain, and mountain wave weather conditions.

Full narrative available

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