Tuesday, May 8, 2012
When someone makes a suggestion, it might be wise to listen
Airport fire department personnel pegged the departure time from runway 28 at 9:39. A fireman said that the airplane appeared to level off momentarily about 500 feet AGL before entering a right turn. He then lost sight of the airplane due to reduced visibility.
The pilot never checked in with Denver Center, which resulted in a search being started. The burning wreckage was found adjacent to the airport.
Radar data revealed that the airplane did enter a right turn after takeoff. The turn continued to tighten through approximately 270 degrees, until the airplane impacted the ground approximately one mile north-northwest of the approach end of runway 28. The data also revealed the airplane had momentarily leveled off at about 200 feet AGL, and reached a maximum altitude of approximately 900 feet AGL during the turn.
The pilot was 54 years old. He held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. He held a special issuance third-class medical certificate. According to his logbook, he had 867 hours with 82 in type. However, on his last medical application made about three months after the date of the last logbook entry, he reported 2,000 total hours.
The weather observation taken about five minutes before the accident reported wind from 100 degrees at 4 knots, visibility of 3⁄4-mile, 1,200 feet overcast, temperature 19 F., and dew point 18 F. The automated weather system wasn't equipped to detect precipitation, but airport personnel reported heavy snowfall occurring.
Snow at the accident site was more than one foot deep. Investigators got to the site via a snowcat. The airplane had impacted the ground while inverted and in a nose-down attitude of approximately 70 degrees. No problems were found with the engine or airframe that would have contributed to the loss of control.
The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was the pilot's loss of control due to snow/ice contamination on the airplane's lifting surfaces as a result of his decision not to deice the airplane before departure.
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