November 9, 2008, Forest Falls, Calif., Piper PA-32S-300


The airplane was destroyed when it impacted the side of a mountain at about 1126 Pacific time, killing the pilot and three passengers. Visual conditions were prevalent for most of the flight. The pilot had been in contact with the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center; no distress calls were reported.

According to radar data, at about 1050, the airplane was at a Mode C altitude of 12,800 feet, in the Palm Springs, California area. At 1118, the altitude was 13,500 feet. The last radar hit was at 1125:38, which showed about a 900-foot-per-minute descent in 12 seconds. The wreckage was found about 150 feet below the peak of an 11,000-foot-high mountain. The airplane impacted a rock outcropping on the northwest face of the mountain. The area was covered in snow, ice and rock. Pilots involved in the search noted high wind conditions in the area at the time of the crash.


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