NTSB Identification: DEN00FA127.
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Accident occurred Saturday, July 08, 2000 in Aspen, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/25/2002
Aircraft: Cessna 195, registration: N4377V
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 pilot flew the airplane from the departure airport (field elevation of 7,815 feet msl) to a point approximately 3 miles north before turning southeast and flying up a valley. Local pilots stated that the normal procedure for departing the airport was to fly north 8 to 10 nautical miles north before turning into a different valley. The valley where the wreckage was located was surrounded by rapidly rising terrain on each side and terminated at a mountain ridge with elevations up to 12,700 feet msl. The accident site was located at an elevation of 9,860 feet. The wreckage energy path was oriented almost opposite the direction needed to fly up the valley, indicating that the pilot attempted to reverse direction and fly out of the valley. No anomalies were noted with the airframe or engine that would have prevented normal operation of the aircraft. The density altitude at the time of the accident was calculated to be 10,518 feet.

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

the pilot's poor in-flight decision to fly up a valley with rapidly rising terrain, which resulted in the airplane colliding with the terrain due to its climb performance being exceeded. A contributing factors was the high, rapidly rising, mountainous terrain.

Full narrative available

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