NTSB Identification: LAX05TA277.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, August 23, 2005 in Elko, NV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/26/2007
Aircraft: WSK PZL Mielec M-18A, registration: N7077N
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

The airplane impacted terrain when it encountered tailwind and downdraft conditions during a fire retardant delivery flight over a ridgeline. According to the pilot, he flew the airplane over the drop site between 95 and 100 miles per hour (mph), about 60 feet above the terrain, and with 30 degrees of flaps extended. After dropping the retardant, he applied full power and retracted the flaps to 10 degrees with normal engine indications. The airplane would not climb without losing airspeed and the pilot realized he would not be able to clear the ridgeline in his flight path. He slowed the airplane as much as possible before the airplane collided with terrain. The weather observation at a nearby airport and reports from ground personnel close to the site indicated high and gusty wind conditions with velocities as high as 40 knots existed at the time of the accident, and would have resulted in a tailwind condition for the airplane as it made the retardant drop.

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

the pilot's failure to adequately plan for the wind direction and speed during a fire retardant delivery flight, which led to a loss of true airspeed, failure to attain a proper climb rate, and the in-flight collision with mountainous terrain. Contributing factors were the high, gusty, tailwind conditions.

Full narrative available

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