NTSB Identification: LAX94FA007.
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Accident occurred Thursday, October 07, 1993 in SEDONA, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/20/1994
Aircraft: CESSNA 172N, registration: N5365D
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 was returning from a day long charter flight. About 2000 hours, the pilot dropped his passengers in Flagstaff, Arizona, and departed for Sedona, located 21 miles to the south. At a point 13.6 miles south of Flagstaff, the airplane collided with a sheer rock wall about 1,000 feet below the top of the mountainous terrain. Based on weather data and witness statements, low clouds existed in the accident area around the time of the accident. A witness reported seeing the airplane's lights flash on the clouds while the aircraft appeared to be reversing course. The witnesses heard normal engine sounds until the impact. No system discrepancies were noted during the examination of the aircraft. Based on fuel calculations, the airplane had about 5.5 gallons of fuel on board or about 40 minutes of flight time remaining.

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

the pilot's decision to continue VFR at an improper altitude into mountainous terrain at night and the inadvertent encounter with clouds along the route. Self-induced pressure due to a low fuel state contributed to the accident.

Full narrative available

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