NTSB Identification: FTW98LA295.
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Accident occurred Thursday, July 02, 1998 in WATKINS, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/11/2000
Aircraft: Cessna 172E, registration: N7780U
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.
The pilot landed at Front Range Airport, Watkins, Colorado, refueled, and waited 90 minutes for a thunderstorm to pass. He then took off en route to Englewood, Colorado. He returned to the airport shortly thereafter because he encountered 'steady state precipitation.' He waited for 30 minutes 'until the rain and virga passed and the wind [had] died down.' He took off from runway 17 into a 4 to 6 knot wind from 160 degrees. After climbing about 400 to 500 feet agl, he began to feel the airplane sinking rapidly. He maintained an airspeed of 60 to 65 knots during the descent, and the stall warning horn sounded intermittently. The airplane collided with rising terrain south of the airport. It was the pilot's opinion that he had encountered a microburst. At the time of the accident, Denver International Airport, located 10 miles northwest of Front Range Airport, reported there were several cumulonimbus clouds at 5500 feet in the area, with winds from the east at 20 knots, gusts to 26 knots, and peak winds at 30 knots. A line of cumulonimbus clouds, stretching from the northwest to the northeast, were moving north with rain showers to the northeast.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's inadequate evaluation of the weather which resulted in an encounter with a microburst. Contributing was the airplane's climb capability exceeded by the microburst, and rising terrain. Full narrative available
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