NTSB Identification: LAX98LA187.
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Accident occurred Sunday, June 07, 1998 in DESCANSO, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/03/2000
Aircraft: Cessna 152, registration: N5343M
Injuries: 2 Serious.

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 purpose of the flight was to conduct the cross-country portion of the student's flight training to obtain a private pilot certificate. A coastal mountain range bisected the course between the takeoff airport, which was under the influence of cloud layers, and the destination airport, which was in clear weather conditions. Both the certified flight instructor (CFI) and student received three separate weather briefings stating that visual flight rules flight was not recommended along the intended route of flight due to mountain obscuration and moderate turbulence. As the flight proceeded into mountainous terrain, the flight encountered clouds that were merging with higher terrain and the CFI elected to turn around. The CFI said that half way through the 180-degree turn, they were struck by a strong downdraft that pushed the aircraft into the ground. A witness to the accident stated that he saw the airplane at 150 feet above ground level as it came out of the clouds executing a left turn, and then saw it abruptly descend and impact trees and terrain. The witness also said that there were strong gusty wind conditions present at the accident site. No discrepancies were found during an examination of the engine or airframe. A meteorological study was conducted that substantiated the National Weather Service forecast in effect at the time of the accident.

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

the certified flight instructor's disregard of the weather briefings and forecasted en route weather conditions, and, his failure to maintain adequate altitude/clearance in mountainous terrain. Contributing to the accident were instrument meteorological conditions and mountainous terrain.

Full narrative available

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