NTSB Identification: LAX04FA190.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Sunday, April 18, 2004 in Holoaloa, HI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/28/2006
Aircraft: Piper PA 28-161, registration: N8198A
Injuries: 3 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.

During a for hire sightseeing tour flight, the airplane impacted rising mountainous volcanic terrain following the pilot's encounter with deteriorating weather. The pilot had been employed by the operator for 11 days prior to the accident and this flight was the pilot's first 14 CFR Part 135 revenue tour flight. Two pilots were interviewed who had flown the route shortly before the accident flight. They both reported encountering low visibility and light rain in the area of the accident. They conducted their flights along the shoreline to avoid the weather conditions. After departure, the pilot was flying south along a highway between the mountains and the coast. The passengers said that within 10 minutes of takeoff, they began to encounter weather conditions that would "get bad, clear up, and get bad again." Both passengers believed the pilot was trying to get out of the clouds. The passengers stated that they were in the clouds and then suddenly they could see the mountain in front of them and the airplane hit the ground. The pilot stated that the airplane remained clear of the clouds, but encountered a severe downdraft and turbulence that she was maneuvering to get out of when the airplane hit the mountain. A review of the weather reports, forecasts, and satellite data for the area of the accident was conducted. Clouds covered the accident site. Upper air data analysis showed the potential for mountain wave activity with maximum vertical velocities of 100 feet per minute. An AIRMET was valid for the time and location of the accident and called for potential moderate turbulence below 6,000 feet. No evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction or failure was found during an examination of the wreckage.

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

The pilot's continued flight into adverse weather conditions that resulted in an in-flight collision with mountainous terrain. Factors in the accident were rising terrain, low clouds and rain, and the pilot's lack of familiarity with the geographic area.

Full narrative available

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