NTSB Identification: LAX00FA314.
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Accident occurred Sunday, August 27, 2000 in POWAY, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/01/2001
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-140, registration: N428FL
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 aircraft impacted a mountain ridge at 2,375 feet msl. A witness, who held a private pilot certificate, was hiking atop the mountain and heard the aircraft approach and impact the mountain about 200 to 300 yards from his position. The witness reported there was a solid stratus cloud layer in the valley below, with the cloud tops about 100 feet below the peak of the mountain [2,696 feet msl]. As he listened, the airplane approached from the south and passed nearby to the west. The aircraft was near but was not visible to the witness. The engine "was running healthy and normally at or near full power." Next he heard a "loud, muffled thud," there was an explosion, and then an orange fireball was visible from near the top of the clouds. Overcast cloud bases were at 1,000 feet msl at the nearest weather reporting point, 9 miles south. Recorded radar data for the last 1 minute 37 seconds of the flight, showed the aircraft, initially, westbound at 1,500 feet climbing to 1,800 feet, about 1 mile south of the accident site. The airplane then made a right turn to a northerly heading and, in the final minute, climbed from 1,800 feet to 2,400 feet. The last radar return was near the accident site with the aircraft at 2,400 feet. The pilot received an outlook weather briefing the evening before the accident that accurately forecast the weather conditions at the time of the accident. No mechanical anomalies were found with the aircraft.

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

The pilot's intentional flight into known adverse weather.

Full narrative available

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