LAX95LA179
LAX95LA179

History of Flight

On April 28, 1995, at 0945 hours Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 152, N49058, disappeared from radar over the Pacific Ocean near Palos Verdes, California. The pilot was conducting a visual flight rules (VFR) personal flight to San Jose, California, with a planned fuel stop at Santa Barbara, California. The airplane, registered to the pilot and operated by Trade Winds Aviation Sales, San Jose, California, was not recovered and is presumed to have crashed into the Pacific Ocean. The certificated private pilot, the sole occupant, is presumed to have sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight originated at Oceanside Airport, Oceanside, California, at 0916 hours.

Civil Air Patrol personnel reported that the pilot arrived at Oceanside Airport on April 26, 1995, to attend a business meeting. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), San Diego [California] Flight Service Station quality assurance specialist, the pilot obtained a weather briefing on April 28, 1995, at 0838 hours. The FSS specialist gave the pilot a full briefing and advised him that a VFR flight was not recommended due to low clouds and icing conditions above 4,000 feet mean sea level (msl). The pilot told the specialist that ". . . we'll go low along the coast. . . ." The pilot did not file a VFR flight plan.

There were no known communications between the pilot and any FAA air traffic control facilities after he departed.

Trade Winds Aviation Sales (hereafter referred to as Trade Winds) operations manager reported the airplane missing to the FAA on May 1, 1995.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators obtained the available radar data from the FAA, Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center, and National Track Analysis Program (NTAP). The initial airplane radar target was acquired about 1 mile west of Oceanside airport (all bearings/headings noted in this report are oriented toward magnetic north) at 0916:30 hours; the airplane altitude was 300 feet msl. The airplane proceeded in a northwesterly direction (paralleling the coast line) and climbed to 1,000 feet msl. The airplane continued to parallel the coast line, but made a gradual descent to 300 feet msl (0935:56 hours); the airplane was about 8 miles southeast of John Wayne Airport, Santa Ana, California.

At 0938:31 hours, the airplane was at 400 feet msl (about 7 miles south of John Wayne Airport) and continued to climb to 600 feet msl. The last radar target was acquired at 0945:15 hours; the airplane was at 600 feet msl and about 10 miles southeast of Long Beach Airport, Long Beach, California.

Crew Information

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating. He received the certificate from a designated pilot examiner on November 22, 1994. He also held an unrestricted first-class medical certificate.

Safety Board investigators did not recover the pilot's personal flight hours logbook. The flight hours reflected on page 3 of this report were obtained from the pilot's November 22, 1994, private pilot application form. In addition to the hours noted on page 3 of this report, the operator said that the pilot did not fly between November 22, 1994, and April 6, 1995. After April 6, 1995, the pilot flew on flight in a Cessna 172 and several flights in a Cessna 152.

Aircraft Information

The airplane was registered to the pilot. According to the Trade Winds operations manager, the pilot leased the airplane to Trade Winds. Trade Winds flight school division operated and maintained the airplane.

According to the operations manager, Trade Winds maintenance personnel accomplished the airplane's last annual inspection on April 8, 1995; the airplane accrued 10 additional hours before the pilot departed on the accident flight (3,012 total flight hours; the engine accrued 825 hours since major overhaul).

The operations manager also said that there were no deferred maintenance items before the pilot departed.

Meteorological Information

The weather data reflected on page 4 of this report was the 0950 hours Long Beach Airport surface weather observations.

The National Transportation Safety Board, Office of Aviation Safety, conducted a weather study for the Los Angeles Basin between 0900 and 1000 hours. The study revealed ". . . weak cold front extending from interior southern California, westward through central Los Angeles area and then into the adjacent coastal waters . . . ."

Pilot reports indicated cloud tops in the accident area were between 4,000 and 4,500 feet msl. The freezing level was above 4,000 feet msl.

The AIRMET Sierra, issued on April 28, 1995, at 0645 hours indicated occasional ceiling(s) below 1,000 feet and visibility below 3 miles with fog. The conditions ended by 1300 hours.

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