This August 2008 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: Cessna 180. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Garden City, Utah. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The commercial pilot had logged about 616 hours total flight time, with 438 hours in the same make and model as the accident airplane. The pilot and passenger had been on a cross-country trip and were intending to stop at a local festival. The pilot was performing a low-level flight over his friend’s house to signal that he would be landing at a nearby airport. Witnesses reported that the airplane was 500 feet above ground level, doing banked turns in excess of 45°. The airplane began to climb and then stalled, with the left wing dropping. During the investigation, it was determined the density altitude was 7,901 feet MSL. The pilot was based at an airport with an elevation of 472 feet. The high density altitude would have decreased the performance of the airplane. The pilot was conducting low-altitude maneuvers, leaving little margin for error. Because the pilot primarily operated out of an airport that traditionally has low density altitude conditions, he may not have been fully aware of the performance decrease, especially while maneuvering at a low altitude.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed, which led to an aerodynamic stall/spin.
For more information: NTSB.gov