On September 17, 1998, approximately 0900 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 182B, N7179E, registered to and being flown by a commercial pilot, sustained substantial damage during a hard landing on a non-airspaced landing site, near Big Creek, Idaho. The pilot was uninjured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed. The flight, which was personal, was to have been operated under 14CFR91, and originated from the pilot's personal airstrip near Middleton, Idaho, approximately 0800 on the morning of the accident.

The pilot reported that he "departed from my home turf strip at approx[imately] 0800 for Vines airstrip located in [the] backcountry of Idaho Middlefork area. I was on short final and just as I was crossing the "fence," a cow elk moved out of the trees/bushes and I had to flatten my descent to glide over the elk. It was a short, no go-around strip so just before touchdown I applied power but still incurred a hard landing."

The pilot provided a chart showing the landing area. This chart showed the location of the elk as being just short of the east end of the landing area (refer to CHART I). He also reported to the investigator-in-charge that he utilized full flaps during the approach and landing at the site.

The pilot also indicated that he relied on the information published within "Fly Idaho - A Guide to Adventure in the Idaho Backcountry," authored by Galen L. Hanselman, and published by Q.E.I. Publishing (copyright 1994). This book provided a pictorial representation of the landing site, referred to as `Vines,' along with data related to the site (elevation 4,110 feet above sea level, and with a 1,100 foot long by 30 foot wide gravel/turf landing area oriented east/west). Specifically, listed under "AIRPORT CAUTION" were the following comments:

"NOT MAINTAINED - USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Recommend landing upstream RWY 27, takeoff downstream RWY 9"

as well as

"Special consideration should be given to density altitude, turbulence, and mountain flying proficiency. Usage limited to highly experienced mountain pilots." (Refer to ATTACHMENT FI-I).

The density altitude for McCall, Idaho, located 51 nautical miles southwest of the site, was calculated for the 0850 observation based upon a temperature of 11 degrees Centigrade, altimeter of 30.00 inches mercury, and an airport elevation of 5,023 feet above sea level. The density altitude was 5,631 feet. The pilot estimated the temperature at Vines to be 10 degrees Centigrade at the time of the accident. The density altitude was estimated to be at or above 4,110 feet.

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