NTSB Identification: LAX98FA091.
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Accident occurred Saturday, February 21, 1998 in SUTTER, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/16/2001
Aircraft: Beech 95-B55, registration: N67623
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 instrument rated pilot departed Chico and flew in a southerly direction toward the destination. The flight path was reconstructed using recorded radar data and ground witness observations. The pilot maintained a cruise altitude between 700 and 900 feet msl and initially was cruising below the clouds. The ceiling lowered, and the pilot reversed course. The pilot entered the base of the clouds, lost visual reference to the ground, and cruised into the upsloping mountainous terrain of Sutter Buttes, impacting about 780 feet msl. Prior to the flight the pilot, who had been visiting his daughter, indicated to her that if the weather became inclement he would reverse course and return to Chico. At 1101, the pilot received a weather briefing, which indicated that instrument meteorological weather conditions (IMC) including icing, existed along the planned route of flight home, and the pilot delayed his departure. The pilot received additional briefings at 1315 and 1518, and both indicated IMC continued to exist. The pilot's logbook indicated he last flew under IMC 9 months previously, and he had not maintained instrument flying currency. No evidence of a preimpact mechanical malfunction was found during the examination of the airplane.

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

The pilot's in-flight decision(s) to attempt VFR flight in instrument meteorological conditions at an altitude which did not provide for adequate terrain clearance requirements. A factor that contributed to the accident was the pilot's decision to disregard the preflight weather briefing he obtained, which advised against visual flight along his intended route.

Full narrative available

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