NTSB Identification: LAX98FA052.
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Accident occurred Sunday, December 07, 1997 in LYTLE CREEK, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/31/1998
Aircraft: Cessna 172N, registration: N3548E
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 non-instrument rated pilot obtained a preflight weather briefing for a cross-country flight. About 30 minutes after the approximate departure time, witnesses in a mountainous area heard the sound of an aircraft impacting the terrain. The terrain was obscured in low clouds, and ground and air searchers were hampered by the clouds. The aircraft had descended into the mountainous terrain at a steep angle. The aircraft was fragmented, but all components were accounted for at the site. Postaccident examination of the aircraft and engine was made, but no preexisting condition or failed control system was found that would have caused the accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the non-instrument rated pilot's inadvertent VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), and subsequent loss of aircraft control, due to spatial disorientation. Factors relating to the accident were: the adverse weather conditions (low ceiling and fog), and the pilot's lack of instrument experience. Full narrative available
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