Mountain takeoff goes bad

Aircraft: Cessna 172. Injuries: 2 Minor. Location: Atlanta, Idaho. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to land at a mountain airport with an elevation of 5,500 feet MSL. He told investigators that he was unfamiliar with the airport, and he had not read the FAA’s published remarks for the airport in its Airport Facility Directory.

The remarks state, in part, that the airport is recommended for use by “mountain proficient pilots using high performance aircraft.” It also states “no go-around due to rising terrain and trees.”

According to the pilot, he was on short final approach when he realized that his approach path was too high. He attempted to go around and applied full power, then realized that he wouldn’t be able to clear the trees at the departure end of the runway.

He aborted the go-around, forcing the airplane onto the ground in a clearing beyond the departure end of the runway. The airplane hit hard, breaking the wing and fuselage structure.

Probable cause: The pilot’s misjudgment of his final approach path. Contributing to the accident was his inadequate preflight planning.

NTSB Identification: WPR11CA413

This August 2011 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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