NTSB Identification: SEA97LA123.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, May 27, 1997 in FRUITLAND, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/24/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-38, registration: N2362K
Injuries: 2 Minor.

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

During the return leg of a cross-country flight through mountainous terrain, the pilot attempted to fly through a mountain pass which was more than 8,500 feet high. At the time of the accident, the density altitude in the area was greater than 10,000 feet, and according to the Pilot's Operating Handbook, the aircraft's expected climb rate would be less than 100 feet per minute. While attempting to get through the pass, the aircraft encountered downdrafts that were sinking at a greater rate than the aircraft could climb. Although the pilot attempted to outclimb the sinking air, he could not keep the aircraft from descending into the terrain.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from mountainous terrain. Factors include his improper inflight decision to attempt to fly through a mountain pass under high density altitude conditions in an aircraft that was operating near the limits of its performance capability, high density altitude, downdrafts, and mountainous terrain.

Full narrative available

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