NTSB Identification: LAX00LA141.
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Accident occurred Monday, March 27, 2000 in TAFT, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/06/2001
Aircraft: Birx VANS RV-6, registration: N986DB
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Without notifying air traffic control during a flight conducted under instrument flight rules, the pilot descended from 11,000 feet until impacting 900-foot msl terrain in a nose low attitude and with a relatively high rate of speed. At the time, visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and the sky was clear. Earlier, the pilot had departed California's central valley on a business flight with an intended southern California destination. En route communications were normal and the pilot was responsive to the radar controller's instructions to climb from 10,000 to 11,000 feet. About 1.5 minutes after receiving an updated altimeter setting, the airplane began descending. The pilot did not report vacating 11,000 feet, nor did he communicate the existence of any emergency. Minutes later, the airplane, which had just passed abeam the Tracy airport (closest airport to the airplane's location) reversed direction and turned toward Tracy. During the last 2 minutes of recorded flight, the airplane's descent rate averaged 1,550 feet per minute. Ground scar signatures were indicative of the airplane impacting terrain in a wings level attitude, and thereafter sustaining structural fragmentation. The impact occurred on level terrain about 1.3 miles short of the airport. The engine and propeller were found in a 3-foot-deep impact crater. Components were found as far as 317 feet from the crater. There was no evidence of fire. The pilot maintained his airplane on an annual inspection basis, and he had flown it since manufacture in 1998 for a total of 220 hours. He had made 64 flights in the airplane during the preceding 12 months. The pilot was reportedly in good health. The radar track plot provided evidence that the pilot successfully negotiated a course reversal turn and was initially able to head toward the nearest airport. The pilot was, however, unable to arrest the 1,550 foot-per-minute rate of descent. No evidence was found in the fragmented wreckage regarding the reason for the steep descent to ground impact.

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

The in-flight collision with the ground for undetermined reasons.

Full narrative available

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