Mountain morning landing goes badly

This June 2010 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Beech Bonanza. Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious, 1 Minor. Location: Marble, Colo. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The accident happened when the pilot was attempting to land at sunrise on a runway in the mountains. The approach was to the east, so the rising sun was in the pilot’s eyes. The 521-hour pilot had logged 23 hours in a Bonanza. A review of his logbook revealed that his first experience in mountainous terrain was a few days earlier, when he flew into the airstrip.

Surviving passengers reported that the sun had just crested the mountains as they approached the runway. The pilot overflew the intended destination and informed the passengers that he would turn to land, but he misjudged his turn radius and the proximity of the mountains.

According to the passengers, when it became apparent that the airplane would not clear the mountain, he initiated a climb, but it was not enough to miss the mountain.

The post-accident investigation did not find any mechanical issues with the airplane.

Probable cause: The pilot’s miscalculation of the airplane’s turn radius and climb capabilities at high altitude, resulting in controlled flight into terrain. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s lack of mountain flying experience and restricted visibility due to the rising sun.

For more information: NTSB Identification: CEN10FA299




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