NTSB Identification: LAX00FA017.
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Accident occurred Friday, October 15, 1999 in Ventura, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/25/2003
Aircraft: Cessna 152, registration: N5169B
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 airplane collided with hilly coastal terrain during a night cross-country flight. The noninstrument rated private pilot received three weather briefings throughout the day prior to the accident flight. The pilot was told during the last weather briefing that the weather was supposed to be VFR along the route of flight with cloud levels ranging between 1,000 feet to 2,200 feet agl, and IFR conditions to occur after midnight. The pilot was also informed that if he waited until the following morning to depart, the weather was forecasted to be IFR and that he may have to wait for the weather to clear. The weather briefer also informed the pilot that an air show was scheduled for the following morning at the departure airport, and that if the pilot could not depart prior to 1100 the following morning, he would be stuck at the airport because it would be closed to departing and arriving traffic. An eyewitness walking on the beach reported that he saw an airplane flying low overhead at 100 feet agl. He observed the airplane make a left turn and fly inland less than a mile before he observed it flying south again. He stated that the airplane disappeared from his view in a coastal fogbank that was also obscuring steeply rising terrain further to the south. He did not hear the sound of a collision or see a fire, and assumed that the aircraft had cleared the rising terrain. The airplane wreckage was located the following morning approximately 50 feet below a ridge line on a southerly heading. The pilot had accumulated 120 total flight hours, of which 20 hours were flown at night, and 5 hours were flown in simulated instrument conditions. No anomalies were noted with the airplane and engine that would have prevented their normal operation.

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

the pilot's continued VFR flight into IMC. Contributing factors were the pilot's self induced pressure to depart the airport before the weather worsened and the airport closed, and the mountain obscurement and foggy weather conditions, and the night light conditions.

Full narrative available

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