NTSB Identification: LAX05FA106.
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Accident occurred Monday, February 28, 2005 in Yucaipa, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/26/2007
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-181, registration: N2954P
Injuries: 3 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 airplane impacted mountainous terrain in a box canyon during a local area instructional night flight approximately 1 hour after nautical twilight ended. The operator reported that the purpose of the flight was for the private pilot, who obtained his certificate 1 month ago, to obtain night Visual Flight Rules (VFR) experience with an instructor on board. The flight was scheduled to fly in the local area and to make night landings at several local airports. Friends of the pilot reported they heard the airplane fly over the private pilot's residence about 1900. The witness said he could see the strobe lights of the airplane, but could not see the airplane registration number due to the low clouds that were in the area. The wreckage site was on a slope in a box canyon, about 100 feet below the ridgeline top, at an elevation of 4,168 feet mean sea level. The private pilot had a total logged flight time of 95 hours, with 3.5 hours of dual instruction received during night conditions. The certified flight instructor had a total logged flight time of 435 hours, with 22 flight hours logged during night conditions. He logged 23 hours in the local area, 2.8 of which were under night conditions. No mechanical abnormalities were found with the airplane or engine during the investigation.

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

The failure of the private pilot and the flight instructor to maintain adequate terrain clearance while flying in unfamiliar mountainous terrain in dark night conditions.

Full narrative available

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