NTSB Identification: WPR09LA056
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, December 10, 2008 in Lompoc, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/11/2009
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N6461E
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

While on final approach for landing, the airplane impacted a power line about 1/3 mile from the runway threshold. Witnesses reported seeing the airplane approaching the power line at a "very slow" speed, about 50 feet above the ground. The airplane passed between the upper and lower wires of the power line, impacted the lower wires, then collided with the ground in a flat, cultivated field. No evidence of any preimpact discrepancies was found during examination of the airframe. Although several anomalies were noted with the engine's ignition system, they would not have prevented the engine from operating and producing power. The minimal damage to the propeller suggests the engine was operating at a low power setting at the time of ground impact. The throttle was found in the idle position, and since no mechanical reason for a loss of power was found, it is likely the pilot intentionally reduced power. He did not have a current medical certificate or biennial flight review; his previous medical certificate expired in July 2007, and his previous biennial flight review expired in September 2007. Toxicological evaluation detected hydrocodone (a prescription narcotic painkiller) and dihydrocodone (a prescription narcotic painkiller and metabolite of hydrocodone), but no blood was available for testing, and it was not determined when the pilot might last have taken medication or whether he could have been impaired by its use.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from the power line. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's lack of recent experience.

Full narrative available

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