NTSB Identification: LAX88FA082.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 39068.
Accident occurred Thursday, January 07, 1988 in NAPA, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/09/1990
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-181, registration: N2938X
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 PLT WAS RETURNING AFTER A 2 WEEK VACATION TRIP TO ARIZONA. AT AN ENROUTE STOP THE PLT ORDERED THE ACFT FUELED TO PARTIAL TANK CAPACITY ON 1 SIDE & FULL ON THE OTHER. HE ALSO GOT A WX BRIEFING WHICH ADVISED AGAINST VFR FLT DUE TO CLOUDS, FOG & RAIN. THE PLT HAD AN INST RATING BUT WAS NOT CURRENT. THE PLT CONT ON TO THE DEST & FOUND WORSE WX CONDS THAN FORECAST. HE ASKED OAKLAND CENTER FOR AN APPROACH & WAS GIVEN HOLDING INSTRUCTIONS & TOLD TO EXPECT DELAYS DUE TO HEAVY IFR TRAFFIC. AT THAT TIME THE ACFT HAD ABOUT 1 HR & 30 MINS OF FUEL LEFT. THE PLT HELD FOR 47 MINS BEFORE AN APPROACH CLEARANCE WAS ISSUED. ON THE APPROACH THE PLT REPORTED THE VOR INBOUND BUT RADAR DATA SHOWED HE WAS OVER THE ARPT INSTEAD. THE PLT WAS 3 MILES PAST ARPT WHEN CONTROLLERS TOLD HIM HIS POSITION. PLT CLAIMED HE HAD A FIRE & HAD LOST HIS GYROS & ASKED FOR VECTORS TO ARPT. ACFT CRASHED WHILE MANEUVERING IN IFR COND. NO EVIDENCE OF FIRE OR GYRO FAILURE WAS FOUND.

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

PILOT'S INFLIGHT LOSS OF CONTROL OF THE AIRCRAFT WHILE MANEUVERING IN IFR CONDITIONS AFTER BECOMING DISORIENTED WHILE EXECUTING AN INSTRUMENT APPROACH PROCEDURE. FACTORS IN THE ACCIDENT WERE THE PILOTS LACK OF RECENT INSTRUMENT FLIGHT EXPERIENCE AND THE AIRCRAFT FUEL STATE WHICH WAS NEAR EXHAUSTION. CONTRIBUTING TO THE ACCIDENT WAS THE PILOTS DECISION TO CONTINUE THE FLIGHT IN THE FACE OF A WEATHER BRIEIFING WHICH ADVISED AGAINST VFR FLIGHT, AND HIS DECISION NOT TO PROCEED TO AN ALTERNATE DESTINATION WITH BETTER WEATHER CONDITIONS AT A EARLIER STAGE IN THE FLIGHT.

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