NTSB Identification: LAX98FA312.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, September 30, 1998 in AVALON, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/2000
Aircraft: Cessna 152, registration: N49770
Injuries: 1 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 pilot intended to complete a local flight around Santa Catalina Island. Friends indicated the pilot was starting an aerial photography business. One friend, a photographer, flew a previous photographic flight around the island with the pilot and stated they flew well below the level of the mountaintops. The airplane collided with upsloping terrain at an elevation of approximately 1,440 feet mean sea level (msl). The accident site was at the apex of a peak less than 1/2 mile east of the highest point, Silver Peak, 1,804 feet msl, on Santa Catalina Island's western peninsula. The shoreline (sea level) was less than a mile to the right of the flight path. The debris field was about 120 feet long on a magnetic heading of 315 degrees. This roughly paralleled the ridgeline in this area. There were no witnesses. The hour meter indicated 0.8 hours elapsed during the flight. The airplane was discovered the following morning by a Coast Guard helicopter investigating an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal. Sunset was at 1844. Inclination of the sun was 1.9, 1.0, and 0.1 degrees at 1830, 1835, and 1840 respectively. The sun's azimuth was 250.8, 251.5, and 252.2, respectively.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate altitude/clearance. Contributing to the accident were the hilly and mountainous terrain and glare from the setting sun.

Full narrative available

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