According to the pilot, he and his passenger were waiting in the FBO building for the storm system to pass. When the storm system appeared to have passed and the wind had calmed significantly, he checked the Automated Surface Observing System and took off from Runway 21 at the airport in Moab, Utah.
During the initial climb, he observed “just beyond the end of the pavement was the obvious sign of a small microburst developing with blowing dust curling up in several different directions centered just to the right of the centerline, and it was growing spreading out quickly.”
He was able to climb the Cessna 170 to about 400′ before encountering wind at the departure end of the runway. He made a slight left turn to avoid power lines and performed a forced landing.
The airplane landed hard and sustained substantial damage to both wings, the fuselage, and empennage.
The Special METAR reported that, about the time of the accident, the wind was from 280° at 23 knots, gusting to 34 knots. The visibility was 10 statute miles with light rain. There were few clouds at 3,500′, and the ceiling was broken at 9,000′ and 11,000′. The temperature was 84°F, and the dew point was 45°F. The altimeter setting was 30.06 inches of mercury. The peak wind was from 10° at 40 knots at 1903, and the wind shifted direction at 1910. The rain began at 1958 with trace precipitation. The density altitude was 7,164′.
Probable cause: The pilot’s improper decision to depart in unfavorable weather conditions, which resulted in a hard, forced landing.
NTSB Identification: GAA17CA468
This August 2017 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.