On December 11, 2000, about 1930 hours Pacific standard time, a Cessna 172H, N4959R, operated by the North Island Navy Flying Club, was substantially damaged when it collided with San Miguel Mountain about 7 nautical miles north-northeast of Brown Municipal Airport, San Diego, California. The commercial pilot and commercial rated passenger both received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the departure point for the personal flight that was operated under 14 CFR Part 91. A visual flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight originated at NAS North Island, San Diego, about 1920, and was destined for landing practice at Brown, Gillespie, and Montgomery airports before returning to NAS North Island.

The pilot contacted the Brown Field Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Control Tower about 1925, when approximately 5 miles west of the airport, and reported inbound for touch-and-go landings. He was instructed to enter a right downwind for runway 26R, and to change to the correct frequency. The pilot said he did not have the current Automated Terminal Information Service (ATIS) for weather information. After changing frequency he was given the current weather. The controller noticed the airplane just west of "Poggi" VOR (2.3 nautical miles north of the runways), and it appeared to be headed northbound away from the airport.

The controller asked the pilot if he had the airport in sight and he responded he did not, but that he was just practicing some maneuvers and he was a little busy in the cockpit. A couple of minutes later the airplane was observed to be about 7 miles north. The controller advised the pilot to report the prison if he was still inbound for a right base entry for runway 26R. The next readable transmission from the pilot was "encountering some soup." According to the operator's report of the accident, upon entering the clouds, the pilot started a 75 mph climb, followed by a right turn just before impact. The pilot did not respond to additional calls from the controller and was no longer observed on the D-Brite radar system. The airplane had collided with a 2,791-foot mountain about 7 miles north of the intended airport.

After the accident the pilot called 911 on his cell phone. The California Highway Patrol answered and relayed the call to Hartland Fire Department for rescue. The pilot stated to fire rescue personnel that they were on approach to Brown Airport when they ran into a fog bank and collided with the terrain.

Located on Sectional Aeronautical and VFR Terminal Area Charts are maximum elevation figures (MEF). They establish the highest known feature in each quadrangle, including terrain and obstructions (trees, towers, antennas, etc.). The MEF for the accident area is 4,100 feet above mean sea level.

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