NTSB Identification: WPR12CA342
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, August 02, 2012 in McNeal, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/09/2012
Aircraft: PIPER PA18, registration: N2364P
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 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 was taking a passenger on a tour of the local area. The pilot had previously conducted such flights, and he had a normal route that he followed. However, on this occasion, he deviated from that route to "do something a little different" and turned up a canyon that he normally did not fly into. He noticed that the terrain was rising and attempted to climb to clear it. Shortly thereafter, he noticed that the airplane was not going to clear the terrain. He realized that there was insufficient room to execute a course reversal to exit the area and decided to land straight ahead on the rising, vegetation-covered, desert terrain. Immediately after touchdown, the airplane rotated sharply to the right and stopped. The outboard section of the right wing was bent and crumpled. The pilot stated that there were no mechanical problems or failures of the airplane or engine before the accident. The automated weather observation at an airport located 8 miles south of the accident site, at an elevation of 4,150 feet above mean sea level (msl), reported winds from 280 degrees at 3 knots, clear skies, and a temperature of 26 degrees C. The accident site elevation was about 5,400 feet msl, and the estimated density altitude was about 7,600 feet.

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

The pilot's in-flight decision to fly at low level into an unfamiliar canyon, which resulted in an off-airport landing when the airplane's climb capability was exceeded. Contributing to the accident was the airplaneā€™s decreased performance due to the high density altitude.

Full narrative available

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