NTSB Identification: LAX01FA279.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, August 15, 2001 in MOBILE, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/25/2003
Aircraft: Beech F-33A, registration: N3172P
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 airplane collided with terrain while on a low level navigation exercise and was almost totally consumed in a postcrash fire. The pilots were members of the German Air Force (GAF) and the flight was a low level navigation mission as part of an initial air force pilot training course. The flight syllabus called for the flight to complete the route at 500 feet agl. Another airplane with two GAF instructors aboard departed immediately after the accident airplane. The two instructors in the second airplane initially flew north of the standard route and then turned south to intercept it. They were about 1,500 agl. As they turned south, they observed the accident airplane proceeding on a southeasterly course. Both instructors said that they were looking down at the other airplane, and both estimated its altitude was 500 to 700 agl. Both instructors said the accident airplane was in straight and level flight on a southeasterly heading. As the airplane crossed the ridge, the airplane went from straight and level to a 30- to 40-degree angle of bank. The bank angle seemed to increase to 60 degrees and continued to 135 degrees as the nose went down. It appeared to the pilot in the left seat that the maneuver was abrupt, but he saw nothing to account for it. He didn't observe any obstacles to avoid, any smoke or flames coming from the airplane prior to impact, and he did not see anything falling from the airplane. The weather was clear and there was no turbulence. The airplane came to rest in an upright position. Vegetation ranging between 3 and 20 feet in height, and within 5 to 30 feet both behind and in front of the wreckage, was scorched but undamaged. Examination of the wreckage and ground scars disclosed that the airplane impacted the hillside in an attitude level with the slope and with a large vertical energy vector. Pieces of airframe and debris that came to rest outside of the charred areas were not sooty or discolored. Control continuity existed from the control surfaces to the thermally destroyed cabin area. There was no evidence of a catastrophic engine malfunction.

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

The flying pilot's initiation of an intentional maneuver at an altitude inadequate to maintain terrain clearance. Low altitude flight was a contributing factor.

Full narrative available

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