NTSB Identification: LAX02FA255.
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Accident occurred Monday, August 19, 2002 in Echo Summit, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/02/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-200, registration: N7794C
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 850-hour instrument rated private pilot contacted ground control requesting taxi instructions for departure. The pilot was cleared to taxi to runway 18 and was notified the wind was from 180 degrees at 13 knots, altimeter 30.06 inches, and told to check density altitude. After completing a run-up, the pilot, who was reported to be very familiar with the airport and the route of flight, contacted the tower and requested a straight-out departure over Echo Summit. No distress calls were received from the airplane. The wreckage of the airplane was located in a wooded area approximately 7.2 miles south of the airport at an approximate altitude of 7,432 feet msl, after a post-impact fire sparked a 400-acre forest fire. The airplane impacted trees and the rocky terrain with the wing flaps retracted and the landing gear extended. The wreckage came to rest on a measured heading of 116 degrees magnetic. The density altitude at the accident site was calculated at 8,551 feet. The airplane was found to be 488 pounds below its maximum takeoff weight of 2,650 pounds at the time of departure. No discrepancies or mechanical anomalies were found with the wreckage at the accident site. Flight control continuity was established to all of the flight control surfaces. No mechanical anomalies were noted with the engine during a detailed teardown examination.

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

The pilot's decision to continue the flight into the rising mountainous terrain, and subsequent failure to maintain clearance with the trees. Contributing factors were the rising mountainous terrain, and the high density altitude,

Full narrative available

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