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The left-seat pilot held a private-pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and instrument ratings. He also held a first-class airman medical certificate. According to the airplane operator’s records, the pilot had logged approximately 190 flight hours.
The right-seat pilot held a private-pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and instrument ratings. He held a second-class airman medical certificate. According to the airplane operator’s records, the pilot had logged approximately 234 flight hours.
When investigators examined the engine and airframe, they found no discrepancies. Using the weather information recorded by a remote AWOS weather observation facility located on Salida Mountain, about one mile east of the accident site, investigators computed the density altitude at about the time of the accident. It was computed to have been about 14,300 feet MSL. According to the 1984 Cessna 172P Skyhawk information manual, the airplane’s service ceiling is 13,000 feet.
The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was the pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed, which resulted in a stall, and his decision to conduct flight beyond the performance capability of the aircraft. A contributing factor was the high-density altitude and an inadvertent stall.
Peter Katz is editor and publisher of NTSB Reporter, an independent monthly update on aircraft accident investigations and other news concerning the National Transportation Safety Board. To subscribe, write to: NTSB Reporter, Subscription Dept., P.O. Box 831, White Plains, NY 10602-0831.