NTSB Identification: LAX02FA038.
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Accident occurred Sunday, December 02, 2001 in El Dorado, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/28/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-24-250, registration: N6946P
Injuries: 4 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 the ground in a steep nose down attitude at high speed. There were no known witnesses to the accident. No flight plan had been filed for the personal flight and no records were found of an FAA preflight weather briefing or en route communications with any FAA facility. The accident site is about 8 miles east of the flight's intended destination airport. Examination of available weather data disclosed that an unusually strong late fall weather system was affecting the general accident site area. Overcast clouds were banked over the Sierra Nevada foothills and consisted of a southwest-northeast oriented cloud band with scattered light rain showers present in the accident area. Cloud bases were probably 1,000 to 2,000 feet above ground level, and cloud tops were probably around 16,000 feet msl. Winds and temperatures at the accident airplane's estimated flight envelope of 3,000 to 4,500 feet msl were southwesterly at 30 knots and 34 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. The freezing level in the accident area was about 5,000 feet msl with the possibility of moderate to severe mixed icing conditions above that altitude. The presence of a light rain shower near the accident site and an upslope flow condition indicated that super cooled large water droplets were likely present in the area. Occasional moderate turbulence was likely in the area with severe turbulence possible near convective activity. A deputy sheriff patrolling near the accident site reported that at the time of the accident there was heavy rain and wind. Local accident area residents reported that they were experiencing strong winds and heavy rain with lightning and thunder at the time of the accident. Examination of the wreckage disclosed no evidence of a preimpact mechanical malfunction or failure.

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

the pilot's intentional flight into adverse weather conditions and his subsequent failure to maintain aircraft control.

Full narrative available

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