NTSB Identification: SEA08CA199
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, September 14, 2008 in Truckee, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/10/2008
Aircraft: CESSNA 177B, registration: N30692
Injuries: 1 Serious,3 Minor.
NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The pilot took off from the mountain airport with a density altitude of about 8,000 feet and winds gusting to 14 knots. According to calculations by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, the airplane was loaded to within about 50 pounds of its maximum gross weight. After lifting off, the airplane climbed to about 200 feet above ground level, and then started to sink as it encountered downdrafts over the mountainous terrain. The pilot turned back toward the airport, and he elected to maintain an airspeed above stall speed. During the turn the airplane continued to descend. Prior to reaching the airport, the airplane's wheels momentarily touched the terrain, but the airplane became airborne again. Almost immediately thereafter, the airplane's left wing contacted the ground. The airplane then cartwheeled into the terrain. There was no evidence of any engine or flight control anomaly. According to the pilot, the way to prevent such an accident from reoccurring is, "To not fly in the mountains when the gross weight is close to the maximum."
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's improper decision to take off in a heavily loaded airplane under the ambient conditions that existed at the time. Contributing to the accident was the mountainous/hilly terrain, a high density altitude, gusty winds and downdrafts. Full narrative available
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