NTSB Identification: LAX94FA318.
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Accident occurred Thursday, August 11, 1994 in SO. LAKE TAHOE, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/19/1996
Aircraft: CESSNA 177RG, registration: N217AF
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

WHILE DEPARTING A HIGH DENSITY ALTITUDE AIRPORT AT A HIGH GROSS WEIGHT, THE AIRPLANE CLIMBED ABOUT 50 FEET AND DID NOT ACCELERATE. THE AIRPLANE WAS OBSERVED DESCENDING BEFORE COLLIDING WITH TREES ABOUT 1/2-MILE OFF THE DEPARTURE END OF THE RUNWAY. WEIGHT AND BALANCE COMPUTATIONS PLACED THE AIRPLANE OVER MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE GROSS WEIGHT. THE DENSITY ALTITUDE WAS COMPUTED AT 8,493 FEET ABOVE MEAN SEA LEVEL. THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE OF MECHANICAL FAILURE OR MALFUNCTION FOUND WITH THE AIRPLANE. THE DEPARTURE AIRPORT IS KNOWN FOR ITS HIGH DENSITY ALTITUDE AND DOWNDRAFTS AT THE END OF THE DEPARTURE RUNWAY. REVIEW OF THE PILOT'S FLIGHT EXPERIENCE REVEALED HE HAD OPERATED AT ONE HIGH DENSITY ALTITUDE AIRPORT IN THE PAST, WHERE HE ACCOMPLISHED ONE TAKEOFF AND LANDING WITH A FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR.

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

The pilot's decision to take off from a high density altitude airport at an over allowable gross weight condition. Factors in the accident were the high density altitude, down drafts, and the pilot's lack of familiarity operting from high density altitude airports.

Full narrative available

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