NTSB Identification: LAX99FA028.
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Accident occurred Friday, November 06, 1998 in BISHOP, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/22/2000
Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-200, registration: N2737R
Injuries: 3 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 reported that he intended to fly a direct route from his departure point to the destination, a route that crossed the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Recorded radar data showed the aircraft on a northwesterly heading as it approached the mountain range from the east, cruising VFR at 14,500 feet msl, and approaching 13,558-foot Mount Goddard. Forecast winds aloft were northwesterly approximately 50 knots. In the 9 minutes before the aircraft disappeared from radar, mode-C decoded altitude data showed the aircraft descended from 14,500 feet to 13,200 feet. The wreckage was located near where radar contact was lost at the 13,200-foot level on the mountain side. Two pilot reports stated that the mountain peaks were obscured in clouds. The aircraft cruised above 12,500 feet for more than 50 minutes prior to the accident. There was no supplemental breathing oxygen aboard.

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

The failure of the pilot-in-command, after encountering a downdraft, to maneuver and maintain clearance from mountainous terrain. Physical impairment due to hypoxia was a factor in the accident.

Full narrative available

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