This November 2008 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.
Aircraft: Piper Cherokee Six. Injuries: 4 Fatal. Location: Forest Falls, Calif. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The 74-year-old pilot held a private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. On his most recent application for a medical certificate, he reported that he had logged 7,303 flight hours, with 98 hours logged in the previous six months. On the application the pilot indicated that he used several medications. The pilot had a history, known to the FAA, of an abnormal heart rhythm for which he was taking a blood thinner to reduce stroke risk. He also had a color vision deficiency.
Meteorological conditions at the time of the accident showed cloud bases were near 7,000 feet with the cloud tops above 15,000 feet. An AIRMET for icing and turbulence had been issued for the time of the accident.
The pilot departed in VFR conditions on a cross-country flight back to his home airport. About 35 miles southeast of the destination airport, the airplane crashed on the northwest side of an 11,000-foot mountain approximately 150 feet below the mountain’s crest.
Probable cause: The continued flight into instrument meteorological conditions and subsequent impact with mountainous terrain.
For more information: NTSB.gov