NTSB Identification: CEN12LA414
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, June 30, 2012 in Glenwood Springs, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/03/2014
Aircraft: CESSNA 172S, registration: N917SA
Injuries: 1 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.

A pilot with 56 hours of pilot-in-command time was on the return leg of a cross-country flight over mountainous terrain. The pilot did not note any airplane anomalies during the startup, engine run-up, or takeoff. The pilot reported that it was a clear, calm morning, and he made the decision to fly on the left side of a canyon. The pilot indicated that when he wanted to climb out of the canyon, power increases did not seem to help, so he slowed the airplane to 70 knots indicated airspeed to minimize the turnaround radius to exit the canyon. He stated that he slowed the airplane a little more to make the turnaround and remembered feeling/seeing the airplane hit a tree. A postaccident examination of the wreckage revealed no anomalies with the flight controls or engine. A camera in the cockpit, which recorded video of the accident flight, also revealed no airplane or engine anomalies. The airplane was observed impacting trees on rising terrain. Warmer-than-standard temperatures on the day of the accident resulted in a high density altitude and reduced climb performance of the airplane.

An FAA publication, "Tips on Mountain Flying," indicated that pilots should carefully consider their experience and background before beginning a flight into mountainous terrain. It urged pilots to consider attending a recognized mountain flying course to attain the knowledge and skills needed for safe flying. The publication further stated that pilots should wait until they have at least 150 hours of pilot-in-command time before taking mountain training, as more experienced pilots have had time to become more familiar and comfortable with the airplane and with flight planning.

The pilot stated that he had received instruction on assessing canyons from a previous mountain flight. The pilot did not indicate that he attended a recognized mountain flying course.

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

The pilot's decision to fly into a mountainous area where conditions were such that the airplane was unable to climb above rising terrain. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's insufficient pilot-in-command experience and inadequate training in mountain flying.

Full narrative available

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