NTSB Identification: LAX06FA091.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, January 17, 2006 in Big Pine, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/29/2006
Aircraft: Cessna 182P, registration: N6034J
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.

The airplane impacted a hill about 34 miles north of the destination airport. The accident occurred under dark, nighttime, visual meteorological conditions. The airplane was en route on a 57-mile cross-country flight through a valley. The pilot frequently used the airplane to commute between the departure and destination points, accruing thousands of hours in the valley. The airplane wreckage was on a hill with about a 25-degree slope and located about 275 feet below the ridgeline's top. A heavily traveled highway was situated adjacent to the hill in the same north-south orientation as the route of flight. The wreckage distribution path was 400 feet long on a magnetic bearing of about 340 degrees. An examination of the impact ground scars disclosed that the airplane was in controlled flight in a near level configuration when it collided with the terrain. At the time of the accident, the moon was 3.7 degrees above the eastern horizon but blocked by mountains to the east. It is likely the lights from the automobiles on the highway would have been visible to the pilot, but there were no lights to distinguish the rising terrain. During the wreckage examination of the airframe's structure and the engine, no evidence of any preimpact failures or malfunctions was found.

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

the pilot's failure to maintain an adequate terrain clearance altitude during a cruise descent that resulted in controlled flight into terrain (CFIT). Factors in the accident were the rising mountainous terrain, the dark nighttime lighting condition.

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