NTSB Identification: LAX98FA296.
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Accident occurred Sunday, September 20, 1998 in SAUGUS, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/28/2000
Aircraft: Cessna 310K, registration: N711CG
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 private pilot and two passengers were returning from the Reno Air Races where they had participated as pylon spotters. The destination airport was overcast with low stratus clouds. The pilot checked three mountain passes for a visual route into the coastal basin without success and diverted to an airport on the desert side of the coastal mountains for additional fuel and to file an IFR flight plan into the basin. One passenger chose to disembark and the pilot and remaining passenger departed. Recorded radar data and air-to-ground communications tapes between the airplane and the ATC facilities that worked the flight were obtained and disclosed that the pilot responded to heading and altitude instructions. While on vectors to intercept the destination ILS, the controller took the aircraft through the final approach twice for spacing with a preceding airplane. The mode C report displayed a 6,000-foot altitude as the controller issued an instruction to reduce to final approach speed and then turn right to a new heading. The secondary beacon target began the right turn and radar contact was lost with the airplane. The last recorded mode C report displayed 6,100 feet mean sea level. Witnesses near the impact site heard an airplane in the low overcast estimated to be 800 to 1,000 feet above ground level. The airplane sound was changing as though it was orbiting or turning. The witnesses then saw the airplane descending out of the clouds in a nose down attitude. The airplane appeared to start a pullout when a noise was heard and the airplane tail appeared to break apart. Fragmented components of the tail assembly were recovered from various locations and distances from the wreckage site. Reconstruction of the wreckage found no abnormal conditions in either the aircraft structure or flight instruments.

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

the pilot's in-flight loss of control which led to a subsequent structural airframe failure as the pilot exceeded the design stress limits of the airplane during an attempted recovery.

Full narrative available

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