NTSB Identification: LAX07FA080.
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Accident occurred Saturday, February 03, 2007 in Ranchita, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/26/2008
Aircraft: Mooney M20J, registration: N201RV
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.

Recorded radar data indicated that after the airplane took off for the cross-country flight across a costal mountain range, it climbed to an altitude of 7,500 feet msl on a northeasterly course toward its intended destination, which was in a large valley on the other side of the mountains. As the flight neared the destination airport and while still over mountainous terrain, the target began a gradual descent as it continued on the northeasterly heading. The last radar return was at an altitude of 4,100 feet msl. The wreckage was located on a flat mountain plateau covered with large rocks and low vegetation. The first identified point of contact with the ground were black rubber marks noted on numerous rocks about 180 feet from the main wreckage. The main wreckage was at an elevation of 4,294 feet and the ground scars and wreckage signatures were consistent with the airplane contacting the ground in a near wings level attitude. The propeller exhibited signatures consistent with significant power production from the engine. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time. Moonrise occurred approximately 20 minutes after the accident. Weather reports from nearby aviation reporting stations depicted conditions of clear skies and visibilities equal to or greater than 10 miles over a wide area encompassing the accident site. Investigators found no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunctions.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain terrain clearance during a cruise descent. Contributing to the accident were the dark night lighting conditions and the mountainous terrain.

Full narrative available

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