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On July 18, 2000, approximately 1400 mountain daylight time, a Grumman American AA-5, N7161L, operated by the pilot, was destroyed when it collided with terrain while maneuvering near Moab, Utah. The private pilot and commercial pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the personal flight being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated at Moab approximately 1330.
The pilot of N7161L and his pilot rated passenger were acquainted and both were avid "BASE jumpers" (parachuting off of Bridges, Antennas, Structures, and Earth). The pilot rated-passenger was a charter pilot employed by Slick Rock Air Guides at Canyonlands Airport, Moab, Utah, and was said to be thoroughly familiar with the surrounding terrain.
The owner of Slick Rock Air Guides said the pilot of N7161L telephoned Canyonlands Airport at 0930, and said he was getting ready to depart Greeley, Colorado. He telephoned again at 1115, and said he was in Rifle, Colorado, and was "running 30 to 45 minutes late." According to Corporate Aircraft Services at Garfield County Airport in Rifle, N7161L was refueled to capacity. The airplane arrived at Canyonlands Airport between 1230 and 1300, and the pilot off loaded some personal items and base jumping equipment. The pilot-rated passenger asked his employer if he could take the rest of the day off. Since there were no more charters scheduled for that day, the request was granted. He said he and the pilot were going to scout possible jump sites. Although no one actually observed the takeoff, airport personnel heard an airplane depart approximately 1330. The next morning, when his employee failed to report for a charter flight, the owner of Slick Rock Air Guides notified authorities and a search was initiated by the Civil Air Patrol, utilizing 16 airplanes.
The wreckage was located by the crew of a Utah State Patrol helicopter on July 23, approximately 1145, in Mineral Canyon, about 25 miles west of Moab, at 38 degrees, 32'56" north latitude, and 109 degrees, 54'18" west longitude.
The pilot in command, age 21, held a private pilot certificate, dated July 2, 2000, with an airplane single engine land rating. His third class airman medical certificate, dated July 22, 1997, contained the restriction, "Must Wear Corrective Lenses." His logbook was never located. According to his mother, he soloed on his nineteenth birthday in 1997. His flight training was completed through Aims Community College in Greeley, Colorado. The following flight times were taken from his application for the private pilot practical test with an additional 25 hours added, which was the time estimated by his mother and corroborated by friends that the pilot had logged since obtaining his pilot's license. The pilot had a total flight time of 150 hours, of which 67 hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane.
The pilot-rated passenger, age 44, held a commercial pilot certificate, dated January 26, 2000, with airplane single/multi-engine land and instrument ratings. He also held a senior parachute rigger certificate, dated April 11, 1991. His second class airman medical certificate, dated November 15, 1999, contained no restrictions or limitations. He successfully completed FAA administered knowledge, competency, and line checks on May 10, 2000, utilizing a Cessna 182. His second of two logbooks was made available for examination by Slick Rock Air Guides. It contained entries from August 30, 1997, to July 13, 2000. The pilot-rated passenger had a toal flight time of 1,509 hours.
N7161L was purchased for the pilot by his parents. According to the aircraft's maintenance records, the last annual inspection was on March 31, 2000, at a tachometer time of 2,468:74 hours. At that time, the engine had accrued 487:84 hours since major overhaul. The overhaul was done on April 10, 1992, at a tachometer time of 1980:90 hours.
Canyonlands Airport ASOS (Automated Surface Observing System) weather observation, taken at 1353 mdt (1953UTC), was as follows: Wind, 170 degrees at 4 knots, gusts to 14 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; sky condition, clear; temperature, 34 degrees C. (93.2 degrees F.); dew point, 10 degrees C. (50 degrees F.); altimeter, 30.15 inches of mercury.
Canyonlands Airport is situated at an elevation of 4,553 feet msl (above mean sea level). The computed density altitude at the airport was 7,407 feet msl. Airport and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) personnel said temperatures in the canyons are considerably higher than at the airport.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage was located on a talus slope at a "Y" between the north and south forks of Mineral Canyon. The top of the canyon was at a GPS (Global Positioning System) elevation of 5,243 feet msl, and the floor was at 4,130 feet msl. The accident site was at 4,275 msl, or 145 feet above the floor of the canyon. The wreckage area was on a 40 degree slope and was confined to an area 50 feet by 20 feet. Examination of the accident site indicated the pilot was attempting to reverse course out of the canyon when the airplane impacted terrain.
Impact heading was measured at 288 degrees. The impact triggered a rock slide that slid down to the wreckage on a heading of 190 degrees.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Autopsies (R200000873 and R200000872) and toxicological screens were performed by the Utah State Medical Examiner's Office in Salt Lake City, Utah. According to the toxicology reports, tests for carboxyhemoglobin and volatiles in the pilot were not conducted due to unsuitable specimens. Tests for drugs were negative. Similar results were found on the pilot rated passenger.
The Federal Aviation Administration was the only party to the investigation. The wreckage was released to the insurance company on July 26, 2000.