NTSB Identification: LAX04FA137.
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Accident occurred Monday, February 16, 2004 in Jean, NV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/07/2005
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-161, registration: N9199Z
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.

!!THIS CASE WAS MODIFIED JANUARY 31, 2006!!

The airplane collided with mountainous desert terrain in a box canyon during low altitude flight maneuvering. The pilot, a military helicopter pilot, was checked out in the airplane 4 days prior to the accident. He held approximately 500 hours total flight time and 150 hours flight time in airplanes. He and his passenger arrived at their destination 2 days prior to the accident. After fueling the airplane, they departed for the return flight home. Radar plots ending about 17 miles from the accident site indicated that the airplane maintained an approximate mean sea level (msl) altitude of 3,500 feet (about 100 feet above ground level) as it flew in a southerly direction, with the surrounding terrain rising to 4,400 feet msl at a rate of increase per mile that was about twice the climb capability of the airplane. The wreckage site was located in a canyon, at an elevation of 3,780 feet msl. The top of the ridges behind the accident site rose to 4,400 feet msl. The toxicological report for the pilot was positive for ethanol, but the state of the specimens evaluated made it impossible to determine whether the ethanol was produced post-mortem or was a result of ingestion of alcohol. No mechanical or control anomalies were found with either the airframe or engine during the post-accident examinations.

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

!!THIS CASE WAS MODIFIED JANUARY 31, 2006!!

the pilot's failure to maintain adequate clearance with the rising terrain, while maneuvering at low altitude in a mountainous area.

Full narrative available

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