NTSB Identification: WPR12LA198
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, May 08, 2012 in Hanksville, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/06/2013
Aircraft: CESSNA 177A, registration: N28WF
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.

The pilot reported that about 1 hour into a local flight, he made a low fly-by over a remote airstrip. When he applied power to climb, the engine responded normally. However, about 15 seconds later, after he raised the flaps, the airplane’s airspeed slowed, and the airplane stopped climbing. The pilot stated that he was in a mountainous canyon and, believing that the airplane would not climb satisfactorily, he performed a forced landing in the canyon. During the forced landing, the airplane’s nosewheel dug into the soft, sandy terrain, the nose landing gear separated, and the main landing gear collapsed.

The pilot reported having taken off with full tanks and stated that he should have had about 40 gallons of fuel remaining after the 1-hour flight. When the airplane was recovered, no fuel was found in the left tank and only 1/3 gallon of fuel was found in the right tank. However, the fuel system lines around the fuel selector and the fuel shut-off valve were compromised, and it is likely that any remaining fuel leaked out of the tanks during the several days that passed between the accident and recovery of the wreckage. Examination of the airplane and its engine found no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have prevented normal operation.

At the calculated density altitude of 6,000 feet, the normally aspirated engine’s maximum output of 150 horsepower (hp) would be reduced to 120 hp. Aircraft performance can become marginal in high density altitude conditions, and both maneuvering at low altitude and operating at high density altitude require pilot vigilance to maintain adequate airspeed during climb.

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

The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering at a low altitude in high density altitude conditions, which resulted in the airplane’s inability to climb or maintain clearance from terrain.

Full narrative available

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