NTSB Identification: SEA96MA079.
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Accident occurred Thursday, April 11, 1996 in CHEYENNE, WY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/30/1997
Aircraft: Cessna 177B, registration: N35207
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

A 7 year old trainee (passenger), accompanied by her father (a passenger) and the pilot-in-command (PIC), were engaged in a trans-continental record attempt involving 6,660 miles of flying in 8 consecutive days. The 1st leg of the trip (about 8 hours of flying) had been accomplished the previous day and began/ended with considerable media attention. On the morning of the 2nd day, the PIC and the trainee participated in media interviews, pre-flighted, and then loaded the airplane. The PIC then received a weather briefing and was advised of moderate icing conditions, turbulence, IFR flight precautions, and a cold front in the area of the departure airport. The airplane was taxied in rain to takeoff on runway 30. While taxiing, the PIC acknowledged receiving information that the wind was from 280 degrees at 20 gusting 30 knots and that a departing Cessna 414 pilot reported moderate low-level windshear of +/- 15 knots. The airplane then departed on runway 30 towards a nearby thunderstorm and began a gradual turn to an easterly heading. Witnesses described the airplane's climb rate and speed as slow, and they observed the airplane enter a roll and descent that was consistent with a stall. Density altitude at the airport was 6,670 feet. The airplane's gross weight was calculated to be 84 pounds over the maximum limit at the time of the impact. (See: NTSB/AAR-97/02 for detailed info)

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

the pilot-in-command's improper decision to take off into deteriorating weather conditions (including turbulence, gusty winds, and an advancing thunderstorm and associated precipitation) when the airplane was overweight and when the density altitude was higher than he was accustomed to, resulting in a stall caused by failure to maintain airspeed. Contributing to the pilot-in-command's decision to take off was a desire to adhere to an overly ambitious itinerary, in part, because of media commitments.

Full narrative available

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