NTSB: Pilot error caused Ariz. crash that killed 6

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX (AP) -- A new federal report says pilot error caused a small plane to crash into the Superstition Mountains on a moonless night in November 2011, killing all six people on board.

Shawn Perry and his three young children died in the fiery crash, along with pilot Russell Hardy and avionics technician Joseph Hardwick.

The flight had just departed from Mesa's Falcon Field en route to Safford when it crashed about 40 miles east of downtown Phoenix.

The National Transportation Safety Board report says Hardy inadvertently flew into a 5,000-foot-tall peak because he failed to maintain a safe direction and altitude.

The NTSB report also says the pilot lacked situational awareness and failed to use air traffic control visual flight rules or altitude warning services.

In addition, the report cited the plane's lack of certain safety equipment.