NTSB Identification: SEA99FA116.
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Accident occurred Friday, July 09, 1999 in BIG CREEK, ID
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/16/2001
Aircraft: Cessna 182D, registration: N8761X
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.

The flight departed Boise about 0701 for a reported destination of Smiley Creek, a remote backcountry airstrip. The pilot did not file a flight plan for the flight. Radar tracked the airplane proceeding directly toward Smiley Creek until radar contact was lost near the Smiley Creek airstrip about 0734. There was no further contact with the aircraft. Three days later, a concerned individual reported one of the aircraft occupants as missing, and a search for the aircraft was initiated. The FAA Alert Notice (ALNOT) on the missing aircraft listed Smiley Creek and Big Creek (a remote backcountry airport 77 nautical miles northwest of Smiley Creek) as potential flight destinations (the occupants had accommodation reservations at a tourist lodge at the Big Creek airport starting on the night the flight departed Boise but never checked in to the lodge.) The aircraft wreckage was found later that evening about 100 yards north of the north end of the Big Creek airport runway. The aircraft was destroyed, and all occupants were found dead at the accident scene. Impact path signatures and wreckage condition and distribution at the scene were consistent with an uncontrolled, relatively low-speed impact on a southerly flight path indicative of an attempt to land at Big Creek to the south (the airport's normal landing direction.) The pilot's wristwatch was stopped at approximately 8:29. Investigators found no evidence of any mechanical problems with the aircraft during an on-site examination of the wreckage. McCall, Idaho, 37 nautical miles away from the accident site and about 700 feet lower in elevation than Big Creek, reported weather conditions equating to a density altitude of about 5,400 feet at McCall at 0850. The Big Creek airport, located in a valley, has a ridge adjacent to, and east of, the runway, such that visual contact with the runway is lost for much of the downwind and turn-to-final portions of the approach; visual contact with the runway is not regained until shortly before rolling out on final.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain control of the aircraft during approach. Factors included high density altitude conditions and high terrain, which obstructed view of the runway and limited maneuvering space in the traffic pattern.

Full narrative available

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