NTSB Identification: LAX89FA025.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 39440.
Accident occurred Wednesday, October 26, 1988 in REDLANDS, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/11/1990
Aircraft: PIPER PA31P-350, registration: N79HW
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 ARPT IS NEXT TO NORTON AFB. THE WEATHER ON THE DARK MOONLESS NIGHT WAS 1 MI VIS IN FOG AND HAZE. THE PLT COMPLETED AN ILS TO A LOW APPROACH AT NORTON AND RECEIVED A SPECIAL VFR CLEARANCE TO PROCEED TO REDLANDS. THE CIRCLING MDA FOR NORTON IS 1,700 FT MSL. NORTON AFB ELEV IS 1,100 FT MSL, AND THE REDLANDS AIRPORT ELEV IS 1,572 FT MSL. THE CIRCLING MDA FOR NORTON IS 138 FT ABOVE THE REDLANDS AIRPORT ARPT ELEV. THE RECORDED RADAR DATA SHOWED THAT THE FLT DESCENDED TO 1,800 FT ON THE ILS, THEN THE MODE C VARIED BETWEEN 1,700 AND 1,600 FT. THE LAST RADAR RETURN WAS ABOUT 1 MI FROM THE REDLANDS ARPT AT 1,600 FT MSL. A WITNESS ON THE AIRPORT SAW THE ACFT FLY OVER RUNWAY 8 IN A SOUTH TO NORTH DIRECTION, 'LOW AND FAST.' THE WITNESS HEARD THE CRASH SOUNDS IMMEDIATELY THEREAFTER. EVIDENCE AT THE ACCIDENT SITE REVEALED THE ACFT LEFT WING CONTACTED THE GROUND IN A 42 DEGREE LEFT BANK IN A SLIGHT NOSE DOWN ATTITUDE. FEW GROUND REFERENCE LIGHTS EXIST IN THE AREA AND THE PLT HAD MIN TTL NIGHT TIME.

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

THE PILOT'S INADVERTENT SELECTION OF AN INAPPROPRIATE ALTITUDE FOR THE ATTEMPTED NIGHT SPECIAL VFR CIRCLE TO LAND MANEUVER. CONTRIBUTING TO THE ACCIDENT WAS THE DARK NIGHT, RESTRICTED VISIBILITIES AND LACK OF GROUND REFERENCE LIGHTS. ALSO CONTRIBUTING TO THE ACCIDENT WAS THE PILOT'S LIMITED TOTAL NIGHT EXPERIENCE.

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