NTSB Identification: LAX03FA090.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, February 18, 2003 in Santa Susana, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/28/2004
Aircraft: Cessna 172P, registration: N65005
Injuries: 2 Serious.

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 mountainous terrain in a box canyon while attempting a course reversal. According to statements from both the Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and the student pilot, they approached a 3,400-foot-mountain ridgeline at a cruising altitude of 3,000 feet mean sea level. To keep the most altitude between the airplane and the ground they flew up the center of a box canyon that approached the mountain ridge. The CFI initiated a climb to 3,500 feet. Upon observing that they were not going to clear the ridge, the CFI made a left turn and intentionally stalled the airplane in an attempt to make a survivable landing on the mountain slope. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures.

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

The flight instructor's inadequate in-flight decision to cross mountainous terrain at a inadequate altitude to guarantee terrain clearance.

Full narrative available

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