NTSB Identification: WPR11FA182
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, April 03, 2011 in Cherry Valley, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/30/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28RT, registration: N355LC
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.

Witnesses near the accident site reported hearing the airplane and that it seemed to be flying at low level; the engine sounded like it was operating normally. Neither witness could see the airplane because of low clouds, which were touching the tops of the ridgelines in the hilly terrain. Visibility was about 1 mile or less in fog or heavy mist. Radar data displayed a single target in the vicinity of the accident site, which was likely the accident airplane. The target made multiple tight right and left turns, and the altitude varied between 3,900 feet and 2,500 feet mean sea level. The target subsequently began a tight right descending turn until the target dropped off radar in the vicinity of the accident site. The accident site was in the foothills of mountainous terrain and located on a ridgeline. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. It is likely that the pilot entered the clouds and while maneuvering failed to maintain sufficient altitude to clear the mountainous terrain.

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

The pilot’s continued flight in an area of low ceiling and visibility, which resulted in a collision with mountainous/hilly terrain.

Full narrative available

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