NTSB Identification: LAX95LA201.
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Accident occurred Saturday, June 03, 1995 in CARTAGO, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/30/1995
Aircraft: CESSNA 180F, registration: N2198Z
Injuries: 2 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

WHILE FLYING OVER THE SIERRA NEVADA MOUNTAINS, THE PILOT AND PASSENGER NOTED THAT THE SNOW HAD MELTED FROM THE TEMPLETON MEADOWS AIRSTRIP AND THE PILOT DECIDED TO DO A LOW PASS TO CHECK THE SURFACE OF THE AIRSTRIP FOR A POTENTIAL CAMPING TRIP THE NEXT WEEK. THE FOREST SERVICE ACCESS DIRT AIRSTRIP IS IN A MOUNTAIN MEADOW AT 8,700 FEET MSL AND SURROUNDED BY RISING MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN. THE DENSITY ALTITUDE WAS CALCULATED TO BE ABOUT 10,700 FEET. THE PILOT SAID THAT DURING THE LOW PASS OVER THE UNIMPROVED FIELD HE EXPERIENCED A DOWNDRAFT THAT RESULTED IN A 300 FOOT PER MINUTE DESCENT. THE PILOT SAID HE ADJUSTED THE AIRPLANE TO MAXIMUM CLIMB ANGLE TO TRY AND GET A POSITIVE CLIMB RATE AND CLEAR THE RISING TERRAIN IN HIS FLIGHT PATH. AT 300 FEET AGL, THE PILOT DID NOT THINK HE WAS GOING TO BE ABLE TO CLEAR THE MOUNTAINS AHEAD, SO HE ELECTED TO TURN TOWARD AN OPEN AREA TOWARD LOWER GROUND. WHILE EXECUTING THE MANEUVER, THE AIRPLANE COLLIDED WITH A TREE, IMPACTED THE GROUND, AND CAME TO REST INVERTED. ON-SITE EXAMINATION OF THE AIRCRAFT BY A TECHNICAL REP FROM CESSNA AND THE US FOREST SERVICE FOUND THE FLAPS EXTENDED TO 40 DEGREES. THE AIRFRAME AND ENGINE WERE EXAMINED AND NO MECHANICAL FAILURES WERE FOUND.

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

the pilot's inflight decision to attempt a low pass over a mountain airstrip at a high density alitude atmospheric condition, and, his failure to retract the flaps during the climb-out from the pass. The rising mountainous terrain surrounding the landing strip, downdrafts, and the high density altitude condition were factors in the accident.

Full narrative available

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