NTSB Identification: DEN02FA004.
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Accident occurred Saturday, October 27, 2001 in Palmer Lake, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/26/2003
Aircraft: Cessna T337G, registration: N45E
Injuries: 1 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 departed Centennial Airport (elevation 5,883 feet) VFR to practice multiple instrument approaches at night. He told his wife that he would turn the cockpit lights up bright to facilitate instrument training. After two ILS approaches, he requested, from ATC, two turns in the holding pattern before flying additional approaches. The ATC controller cleared him for the practice holding, and assigned him to fly at 9,000 feet. During the inbound track (347 degrees), radar data indicated that the airplane descended from its assigned altitude to 7,600 feet with no ATC intervention. Next, the pilot requested to depart the initial approach fix to the southeast for approximately 15 nm at 8,500 feet. The ATC controller cleared the request, but didn't terminate radar services. The pilot flew south for approximately 8nm, then turned to 210 degrees. He impacted the mountain approximately 5 minutes later.

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

the pilot intentionally restricting his external vision (turning his cabin lights up bright to practice night instrument approaches), and his subsequent failure to maintain clearance of the mountain. A contributing factor was the Air Traffic Controller’s failure to provide appropriate safety alerts for rising terrain.

Full narrative available

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