NTSB Identification: DEN01LA146.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, August 15, 2001 in SNOWMASS VILLAG, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/06/2002
Aircraft: Commander 114-B, registration: N994JT
Injuries: 2 Serious.

NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

According to the pilot, they were flying up the canyon to gain altitude to clear the mountain passes, and after approximately 10 minutes, had a gain of approximately 3,000 feet in altitude. There was no indication of an engine problem and the engine "appeared to be running smoothly, but the plane would not climb" and the airplane "mysteriously" began to lose airspeed to the point of descending 500 feet per minute in level flight. The airspeed was at 80 knots with "full power, and full pitch props, and leaned mixture." After recognizing the "flight condition," he only had a few minutes to "control the descent to a crash landing in the aspen trees." He stated that they did not receive any injuries upon impact; however, they received "flash burns," which he thought, "originated from fuel vapors from broken fuel lines." Witnesses stated that the airplane was flying approximately 100 feet above the trees and was "climbing with what seemed to be a constant engine speed." Just before the airplane disappeared behind a building, the left wing "drop slightly." Moments later, the engine noise stopped and a large black cloud of smoke appear above the trees. Another witness stated that approximately 20 minutes after calling 911 to report the accident, he observed the pilot and passenger walking down the road. He immediately assisted them and transported them to an approaching ambulance. A police officer observed a column of white smoke rising straight up and for nearly 100 feet above the trees. He stated that the wreckage was "engulfed in flames and moderately exploding," but the surrounding area was unaffected by the post-crash fire that consumed most of the wreckage. A post-examination of the airplane wreckage revealed no anomalies.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain altitude/clearance from the rising terrain for undetermined reasons. Contributing factors include high density altitude conditions, and trees.

Full narrative available

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