NTSB Identification: LAX90FA181.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 42897.
Accident occurred Sunday, May 20, 1990 in STRAWBERRY, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/08/1992
Aircraft: LUSCOMBE 8A, registration: N71653
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 AIRCRAFT DEPARTED IN COMPANY WITH TWO OTHER LUSCOMBE'S IN A FLIGHT OF THREE. ONE PILOT OBTAINED A WEATHER BRIEFING FOR THE GROUP WHICH ADVISED AGAINST VFR FLIGHT DUE TO MOUNTAIN OBSCUREMENT, TURBULENCE AND ICING CONDITIONS. THE TWO SURVIVING PILOTS SAID THE GROUP DECIDED TO FLY UP TO THE SONORA PASS TO SEE IF THE WEATHER CONDITIONS WOULD PERMIT CROSSING THE MOUNTAINS. ONE OF THE PILOTS WAS AN ATCT CONTROLLER AND A WEATHER OBSERVER. HE SAID THAT AFTER THE GROUP ARRIVED IN THE AREA OF THE PASS, HE SAW THAT THE NARROW CANYON WHICH LEADS TO THE PASS WAS OBSCURED BY LOW STRATUS CLOUDS. THE CONTROLLER/PILOT TRIED TO GET THE OTHER PILOTS TO FLY BACK TO COLUMBIA AND HAVE BREAKFAST WHILE THE WEATHER CLEARED OUT OF THE PASS, BUT THE ACCIDENT PILOT RADIOED THAT HE WAS GOING INTO THE CANYON TO 'CHECK IT OUT.' THE TWO SURVIVING PILOTS SAID THEY SAW THE AIRCRAFT DISAPPEAR INTO THE CANYON FLYING BENEATH THE LOW CLOUDS. SHORTLY THEREAFTER THE PILOT TRANSMITTED 'WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE.'

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

THE PILOT'S DECISION TO CONTINUE VFR FLIGHT IN A CONFINED MOUNTAIN PASS AREA WHICH WAS IN INSTRUMENT METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS; AND THE PILOT'S INFLIGHT LOSS OF CONTROL WHILE ATTEMPTING A COURSE REVERSAL IN THE NARROW CONFINED CANYON.

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