NTSB Identification: LAX04FA102.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 21, 2004 in Big Pine, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/30/2007
Aircraft: Piper PA-32R-300, registration: N8701E
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.

During cruise flight on a clear VFR day, the airplane collided with top of a ridgeline in a wing and nose level attitude. A post-impact fire destroyed the fuselage and forward cockpit areas. The pilot's normal workweek was Monday through Friday. Family members said he would leave his residence each day around 0530 in order to report to operations at the required 0600 time, and return home around 2030 each evening at the conclusion of his shift; going to bed around 2300. A captain who had flown with the accident pilot during the pilot's initial training (the accident pilot was observing en route procedures) indicated that during two flights, both from Inyokern to Bishop (the general area of the accident), the accident pilot had fallen asleep. The first time the accident pilot stated that he was tired and asked if it would be okay if he slept for a little bit. The second time, he just went to sleep. Both naps lasted between 20-30 minutes. A dispatcher working the night shift on January 20th reported that the accident pilot was 2.5 hours late returning to Burbank. The pilot was scheduled to be back at 1700, but had encountered adverse weather at Mammoth and did not return to the company base until 1930. The dispatcher reported that the accident pilot looked "beat up," like he had had a rough flight. According to the operator, the airplane was equipped with an autopilot. Due to the thermal damage to the airplane, the autopilot was not recovered. No discrepancies were noted with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

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

failure of the pilot to maintain clearance with mountainous terrain for undetermined reasons.

Full narrative available

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