NTSB Identification: LAX01FA112.
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Accident occurred Friday, March 09, 2001 in SANTA YSABEL, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/29/2004
Aircraft: North American NAVION, registration: N91445
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 airplane collided with terrain following an encounter with clouds and low ceilings. Two witnesses observed the airplane. One had been a licensed pilot. A loud engine sound caught their attention. The engine sounded like it was revving to a high rpm. The airplane sounded very low. They heard the sound for 2 or 3 seconds before they saw the airplane. It came out of clouds with the nose pointing down more than 75 degrees. They were looking north at the side of the airplane as it moved right to left. They did not observe any rotation of the airplane as it disappeared behind a ridgeline, and then they heard a muffled thud. The engine sound simultaneously ceased. They did not observe any pieces separate in flight. The weather was overcast and misting. A weather study indicated cloud tops were generally in the 4,000-foot range on the coast and increased to nearly 7,000 feet in the vicinity of the accident site. Several pilot reports indicated a broken to overcast layer of clouds with cloud tops ranging from 4,500 to 9,000 feet. Recorded radar data showed the airplane maintained a northeasterly track for nearly 20 minutes after takeoff. It then began a gradual left turn for 2 minutes. The target made a sharp left 90-degree turn, and then made a right turn. After 360 degrees, the right turn decreased in radius and continued for over 270 degrees until the last recorded target. This last target was near the accident site. The target reached a peak mode C reported altitude of 6,700 feet at the beginning of the first right turn. The last mode C reported altitude of 4,900 feet occurred about 180 degrees into the second right turn. The accident site elevation is about 2,800 feet msl. The pilot did not possess an instrument rating.

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

the pilot's continued VFR flight into IFR conditions, which resulted in a loss of control due to spatial disorientation.

Full narrative available

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