NTSB Identification: LAX04FA095A
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, January 16, 2004 in Tehachapi, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 5/30/2006
Aircraft: Cessna 180K, registration: N61691
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Minor.

A Cessna 180K and a Beech 95-B55 collided head-on during cruise flight over a valley, between 1,500 and 2,000 feet above ground level. The Cessna's right wing separated, and the airplane descended to ground impact. The Beech, which had been in a cruise climb, experienced a punctured windscreen and fuselage. The pilot made a precautionary landing without further mishap. The collision occurred on a clear day about 6 miles west of the Tehachapi Airport, from where the Beech pilot had departed. Neither pilot was receiving services from the Federal Aviation Administration. Radar track data indicated that the Cessna had flown in a southeasterly direction after departing the Bakersfield area. Minutes prior to the collision, the pilot changed to a northerly course. Seconds prior to the collision the pilot initiated a northeasterly turn. The Beech pilot had just configured his airplane for a cruise climb, and was flying in a westerly direction toward Bakersfield. The Cessna was flying about 135 knots, and the Beech was flying about 140 knots. The closing speed was about 275 knots, or just over 4 miles per minute. The Cessna was equipped with a Mode S transponder, and its signal was detected by Traffic Collision Alerting Device (TCAD) installed in the Beech. Seconds prior to the collision, the Beech pilot heard the audible "traffic" alert warning in his headset, and he observed an illuminated target in close proximity on the annunicator. The target was within 200 feet of his airplane's altitude, and in his 1 to 2 o'clock position. The Beech pilot reported that although he looked for the target, none was seen. The collision angle between the airplanes was documented. The impact was ascertained by fitting the Cessna's right main landing gear wheel in the punctured right side front windscreen of the Beech. As the Cessna's landing gear passed through the upper portion of the Beech's fuselage, the right wing's lift strut was lacerated upon impacting the leading edge of the Beech's vertical stabilizer. Thereafter, the Cessna's right wing separated. An evaluation of the pilots' visual angles revealed the airplanes were within each pilot's field of vision.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot's inadequate visual lookout during cruise, and the pilot of the other airplane's inadequate visual lookout during climb.

Full narrative available

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