NTSB Identification: DEN05FA125.
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Accident occurred Monday, August 08, 2005 in Centennial, WY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/31/2006
Aircraft: Cessna 177B, registration: N35166
Injuries: 2 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.

Airport personnel said the airplane arrived approximately 1900, was refueled, and departed approximately 1926. When the flight plan was not closed, an ALNOT was issued. The wreckage was found the next morning on a direct path to its destination. The airplane had struck trees in mountainous terrain at the 10,500-foot level. According to a deputy sheriff, low clouds and light rain obscured the mountain range and at the time of the accident, it was getting dark. Data downloaded from a hand-held GPS revealed the airplane took off and turned east. It climbed to an altitude of 10,400 feet, then descended and flew at altitudes between 9,800 feet and 10,000 feet. Two minutes before impact, the airplane began climbing. When the ground track was overlaid on a 3-dimensional map, the airplane's altitude began to increase as it approached rising terrain. A toxicological screen was also performed by FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI). In addition to detecting metoprolol in blood and liver, quinine was detected in the liver. Also, 0.044 (ug/mL, ug/g) and 2.618 (ug/mL, ug/g) paroxetine was detected in blood and liver, respectively. According to Kaiser Permanente's Drug Encyclopedia, the medication is "a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to treat depression, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder (social phobia), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and generalized anxiety disorders (GAD). SSRI's work by helping to restore the balance of certain natural substances in the brain (neurotransmitters).

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

the pilot's improper in-flight planning/decision, in that he failed to maintain a steady state climb rate to a safe altitude and continued flight towards visible weather that obstructed his chosen route of flight, and his failure to maintain terrain clearance. Contributing factors were the clouds and rain that obscured the mountain tops, dusk light conditions, and mountainous terrain.

Full narrative available

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