NTSB Identification: LAX04LA260.
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Accident occurred Sunday, July 11, 2004 in Bridgeport, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/31/2006
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-161, registration: N6106H
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airplane collided with mountainous terrain while attempting to traverse the mountains at a density altitude approaching the climb capability limit of the airplane. The pilot reported that after departure he conducted circling climbs over the traffic pattern to gain altitude before heading west toward rising terrain to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. He stated that he did not remember exactly what altitude he climbed to, but estimated that it was around 9,000 to 9,500 feet mean sea level (msl). The pilot flew the airplane between two mountain peaks, which were separated by a 1-mile trough. As the airplane was flying between the peaks, it encountered a downdraft that sent the airplane in a nose down pitch attitude. The pilot attempted to recover, but found the engine could not produce enough power to attain a positive climb rate. The pilot leveled off the airplane and attempted to turn it to the left, but heard the stall warning horn sound. The pilot then tried to turn the airplane to the right, but the stall warning horn sounded again. The pilot pulled the nose up before the airplane impacted the ground. The Federal Aviation Administration inspector, who performed a post-accident examination of the airplane, reported that there was nothing wrong with the airplane that would have prevented its normal operation. The approximate density altitude at the accident site was calculated to be 12,300 feet, which according to the airplane information manual, would only allow a 60-foot-per-minute climb rate.

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

the pilot's failure to attain an adequate altitude to clear mountainous terrain during a high density altitude condition.

Full narrative available

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