December 24, Avalon, Calif. / Piper Seneca


At about 1020 Pacific time, a Piper PA-34-200T collided with mountainous terrain while flying the missed approach portion of the VOR/DME approach to Catalina Airport. The flight instructor, the commercial-rated student, and three passengers were killed. The flight was cleared for the VOR/NDB-B approach to Catalina Airport and contacted Unicom for the current weather, which included a 100-foot overcast ceiling and 1.25 miles visibility. The approach path for the VOR/NDB-B approach is on a heading of 172 degrees with an MDA of 2,100 feet msl. The missed approach procedure calls for a straight ahead climb to 3,200 feet msl toward the Santa Catalina VOR followed by a hold. The VOR is on top of Mount Orizaba at an altitude of 2,090 feet msl. Radar data from the Los Angeles ARTCC showed the accident airplane was established on the approach and leveled off at the MDA. After passing the missed approach point, the aircraft continued on a heading of 172 degrees and at an altitude of 2,100 feet msl until it crashed on the mountain side 870 feet northeast of the VOR and about 15 feet below the mountain ridgeline.


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