Safety In Numbers
The latest NTSB statistics suggest a decrease in general aviation accidents
Infrared weather satellite imagery showed areas of widespread cloud cover northwest of the accident location on the night of the accident. An examination of the engine, airframe and aircraft systems failed to find any problems.
The NTSB determined the probable cause of this accident was the loss of aircraft control, resulting in an in-flight collision with terrain. Factors included marginal weather and dark night conditions.
On August 9, 2004, at approximately 5:15 p.m., a Cessna 172P crashed into mountainous terrain while maneuvering near Monarch Pass in Colorado. A post-crash fire ensued. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under Part 91 without a flight plan. The two pilots sustained fatal injuries. The cross-country flight originated at Montrose, Colo., at 3:25 p.m., and was en route to McCook, Neb.
According to the operator, the pilots departed Allegheny County Airport in Pittsburgh, Pa., on August 4, 2004, and flew to Phoenix, Ariz., via Lexington, Ky. Flying three three-hour legs each day, they arrived in Phoenix on August 6. They picked up a passenger and flew to San Diego, Calif. They departed San Diego on August 8, and flew back to Phoenix, where the passenger disembarked. From there, they flew to Bryce Canyon, Utah, and spent the night.
The next morning, one of the pilots telephoned his wife and told her that they were en route home and that they would stop at West Bend, Wis. The two pilots departed Bryce Canyon and flew to Montrose. The pilot telephoned the aircraft’s operator at approximately 2 p.m., and reported that the weather was fine and that the airplane was performing well.
FAA records indicate that the pilot telephoned the Denver Automated Flight Service Station and received a weather briefing for a flight from Montrose to McCook. He didn’t file a flight plan. The airplane departed Montrose at approximately 3:30. After takeoff, the pilot told the Unicom operator that they were going to “circle the area for a while.”
Two Virginian tourists hiking near the Continental Divide heard an airplane approaching. One of the tourists turned and saw an airplane “at eye level, maybe 100 yards away, coming toward me. Then the plane seemed stationary in flight, the engine skipped, [the airplane] took a hard right-hand turn as I faced the plane, then the tail went straight up over the wing and straight down. [It burst] instantly into flames.”
The other tourist saw the airplane “come up [the] mountain [pass], tried to turn around and went straight down.” One of the tourists hitched a ride to nearby Monarch Ski Resort to report the accident.