NTSB Identification: WPR09FA334
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, July 08, 2009 in Mammoth Lakes, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/22/2010
Aircraft: CESSNA 182P, registration: N7314S
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.

During aircraft refueling the pilot expressed concerns about the windy conditions, as well as commenting the he wanted to “take a look at a mountain range” that was on his route of flight just to the west of the airport. A witness located at the airport reported observing the airplane take off toward the mountain range at a “shallow rate of climb.” A second witness, who resided close to the accident site reported seeing the airplane coming up a draw into the lake area at a low altitude, then enter a left turn before impacting trees. Another witness, who also resides in the lake area, stated that she looked up and saw the airplane coming over her just above the tops of the trees from the southwest. The witness reported that she observed the airplane make a sharp bank to the left before hearing it impact trees as it disappeared behind the tree line. The witness reported gusty wind conditions in the area from the southwest. The airplane impacted multiple 100-foot tall pine trees on a northeast heading, coming to rest in an adjacent meadow. The accident site elevation was 8,575 feet msl, which is about 1,400 feet above the airport's elevation. Mountainous terrain surrounding the accident site ranged in elevation from about 10,000 feet to about 13,000 feet mean sea level. Winds in the area were reported from the southwest at 14 knots, with gusts to 26 knots. Density altitude was calculated to be 11,300 feet. All airplane components necessary for flight were located at the accident site. A post accident examination of the airplane and engine revealed no anomalies, which would have precluded normal operations.

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

The pilot's improper in-flight planning/decision to attempt to fly at a low altitude in a confined area of mountainous terrain in a high density altitude weather condition, and his failure to maintain clearance from the trees.

Full narrative available

Index for Jul2009 | Index of months