NTSB Identification: LAX08LA121.
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Accident occurred Saturday, April 19, 2008 in S. Lake Tahoe, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/28/2008
Aircraft: Cessna 172R, registration: N2384L
Injuries: 4 Uninjured.

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

The pilot rented the airplane from the operator for a cross-country flight. The flight experienced gusty winds during the pilot's first attempted landing on runway 18 at the destination airport, which was located in confined valley in mountainous terrain at an elevation of 6,294 feet. Steeply sloped mountains ring the airport except for the approach path for runway 18. He executed a 360-degree turn to attempt a second approach. During the second approach, he noticed "severely decreasing engine performance and gusty winds." The pilot said he executed another 360-degree turn in order to abort the landing and divert away from the airport; however, the airplane was unable to climb, and he landed on runway 18. The pilot stated that upon landing, "the nose of the aircraft pulled erratically but the landing terminated normally and unassisted taxi was performed." The pilot told an employee of the airport's fixed base operator that the airplane had a flat nose wheel tire and he needed someone to repair it. The employee told the pilot that she had seen him circle and then leave the area, and the pilot said that "he was going to leave and continued to circle but could not gain any altitude to get out so had no choice but to come in." The pilot also told her that "he bounced once before he was able to land" the airplane. The mechanic who was tasked with repairing the flat nose wheel tire found extensive damage to the airplane's firewall and nose gear structure. The mechanic stated that after he found and reported the damage, both the pilot and fixed base operator staff told him that the airplane "had made a hard landing upon arrival" the previous day. Reported winds at the airport near the time of the accident were from 210 degrees at 19 knots gusting to 33 knots. The calculated density altitude was 6,955 feet. The operator stated that this accident could have been prevented by "revised dispatch procedures for aircraft traveling to mountainous areas in adverse wind" and "restrictions on what type of aircraft can fly to high density altitude airports."

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

The pilot's improper flare and subsequent hard landing. Contributing to the accident were the gusty winds and the high density altitude.

Full narrative available

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