NTSB Identification: WPR09LA122
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, February 20, 2009 in Big Bear Lake, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/09/2009
Aircraft: CESSNA 172N, registration: N6443E
Injuries: 2 Minor.

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

After completing some practice maneuvers at an altitude of about 6,000 feet mean sea level, the pilot proceeded towards an airport located in mountainous terrain. The destination airport elevation was 6,752 feet and elevations in the area exceeded 8,000 feet. The pilot reported that as he flew into a ravine, he established a climbing attitude, but observed no change in altitude. The pilot continued flight into the ravine and noted that the airplane started to lose altitude. He then attempted to turn around and initiated a left-hand turn. However, as the airplane's indicated airspeed was about 50 knots and the airplane was close to the terrain, the pilot soon "realized he was not going to make it." He "aimed for the area with the least amount of trees," and the airplane impacted terrain approximately 8 miles from the destination airport at an elevation of about 6,100 feet. Although the pilot reported finding water in the fuel tanks during his preflight inspection, he did not report that the engine displayed any of the symptoms of water contamination such as running rough, momentary power interruptions, or fluctuations in power. Near the time of the accident, the calculated density altitude at the destination airport was 7,725 feet.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from terrain while maneuvering in a ravine. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to continue flight in an area that exceeded the climb rate capabilities of the airplane.

Full narrative available

Index for Feb2009 | Index of months