Mountain flight goes bad

ircraft: Aviat A-1B. Injuries: None. Location: Heber City, Utah. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was practicing the procedures for making approaches to backcountry remote airstrips and was flying in approach configuration about 40 to 60 feet over a mountain ridge.

Although the wind was light and variable, just as the airplane was crossing the ridge it encountered a downdraft, which resulted in a sudden loss of altitude.

Before the pilot was able to correct the descent, one of the main landing gear tires came in contact with the snow-covered terrain, which resulted in the airplane slowing down and flipping over onto its back.

The accident sequence resulted in damage to the top of the rudder and to one of the wing lift struts.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from the ground during low-level maneuvering in mountainous/hilly terrain.

NTSB Identification: WPR11CA041

This November 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.

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