On March 14, 2004, about 1400 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 172C, N8287X, collided with terrain while attempting to perform a go-around at the pilot's private dirt strip near Thermal, California. The pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The private pilot was not injured and the passenger sustained minor injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The personal cross-country flight originated from a private strip near Desert Center, California, about 1300, with the planned destination of Thermal. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan had not been filed.

In a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC), the pilot stated that he was attempting to land in a dirt field on his property. He had successfully completed landings in the field prior to the accident. While attempting to land, he configured the airplane with two notches of flaps, which is equivalent to about 20 degrees. On final approach, he noted that he was higher than normal. About 700 feet down the runway, the wheels touched down on the soft dirt. He attempted a go-around instead of applying heavy brake pressure, in an effort to avoid an unpleasant ride for his passenger.

During the go-around, the pilot left the flaps down and added full power. He climbed to about 100 feet and made a turn to the left. The airplane began to lose altitude and he continued his turn to the left. After completing a 180-degree turn, he leveled out the airplane, and lowered the nose in an effort to regain airspeed. The sink rate continued, and the main landing gear encountered high brush. The airplane settled into the brush and hit the terrain. He thought that the high density altitude was the reason the airplane could not produce enough power to climb.

The pilot reported the temperature to be about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. He did not report any mechanical problems with the airplane prior to the accident.

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