NTSB Identification: LAX99LA280.
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Accident occurred Saturday, August 21, 1999 in EAGLEVILLE, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/22/2000
Aircraft: Piper PA-18-18, registration: N3356B
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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 flight's destination is located in a mountain valley. After sightseeing on the southwest side of the valley, the pilot headed north toward the town, where he intended to land and spend the night. About 3 miles south of the town, the aircraft flew over a small ridge, which resulted in the aircraft being about 500 feet agl. The passenger remarked on some corrals on the ground and the pilot performed a 360-degree turn to view the area. During the turn, the pilot noted the airspeed had increased slightly, and, as the aircraft rolled out on a northerly heading, the aircraft suddenly felt like it stalled and entered a rapid descent. The pilot lowered the nose and flared as the aircraft approached the ground. The aircraft landed flat, breaking off the landing gear. The pilot said that shortly after ground impact, a large cloud moved overhead and it began to lightening and rain heavily, with very gusty surface winds. The pilot stated that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures prior to ground contact. Based on the pressure altitude and the temperature at a weather reporting station 15 miles east of the site, the density altitude was calculated to be about 7,500 feet.

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

The pilot's encounter with a thunderstorm induced downdraft, which resulted in a high rate of sink, at an altitude insufficient to provide for recovery prior to ground impact. The high density altitude was a factor in the accident.

Full narrative available

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