NTSB Identification: DEN00FA009.
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Accident occurred Saturday, October 23, 1999 in ASPEN, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/19/2001
Aircraft: Cessna 172R, registration: N9548A
Injuries: 1 Fatal,2 Serious.

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.

Following takeoff on the return leg of a cross-country flight, the pilot flew directly up a valley, which required the aircraft to climb from the airport altitude of 7,815 feet to clear a pass 12,095 feet high in 19 miles. The temperature was 20 degrees above standard and the distance to climb was calculated from the performance section of the flight manual to be 28.6 miles. The pilot flew up the center of the valley and when the terrain out climbed the aircraft, she had insufficient space to do a reversal. A witnessed forced landing was made on the side of a mountain, above timberline, at 11,948 feet elevation. The upslope was 19 degrees and the side slope was 7 degrees. The terrain was rough and rocky.

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

the pilot's improper decision to fly directly up the center of the valley and not circle climb to gain sufficient terrain clearance altitude. A factor was inadequate route performance planning by the pilot.

Full narrative available

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