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N911JR accident description

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Tail numberN911JR
Accident dateAugust 09, 2004
Aircraft typeCessna 172P
LocationMonarch Crest, CO
Near 38.498889 N, -106.339166 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 9, 2004, approximately 1715 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 172P, N911JR, piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed when it impacted mountainous terrain while maneuvering near Monarch Pass, Monarch Crest, Colorado. A post-crash fire ensued. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. The two pilots sustained fatal injuries. The cross-country flight originated at Montrose, Colorado, at 1525, and was en route to McCook, Nebraska.

According to the operator, the pilots --- an uncle and nephew --- departed Alleghany County Airport, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, August 4, 2004, and flew to Phoenix, Arizona, via Lexington, Kentucky. Flying three 3-hour legs each day, they arrived in Phoenix on Friday, August 6. They picked up a passenger and flew to San Diego, California. There, they spent Saturday, August 7, with the pilot's mother, who was celebrating her 60th birthday. They departed San Diego on Sunday, 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 (the day of the accident), the pilot telephoned his wife and told her they were en route home, and would fly to West Bend, Wisconsin, to see the pilot's father. The two pilots departed Bryce Canyon and flew to Montrose. The pilot telephoned the operator approximately 1400 and told them the weather was fine, and the airplane was performing well. FAA records indicate the pilot telephoned the Denver Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) and received a weather briefing for a flight from Montrose to McCook. He did not file a flight plan. Approximately 1525, the airplane was serviced to capacity with 27.6 gallons of 100-LL fuel. The airplane departed Montrose approximately 1530. After takeoff, the pilot told the Unicom operator that they were going to "circle the area for a while."

Two Virginia 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 towards 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 it went straight down. Instantly into flames." The other tourist saw the airplane "come up [the] mountain [pass], [it] tried to turn around and went straight down." One of the tourists hitched a ride to nearby Monarch Ski Resort to report the accident; the other videotaped the burning airplane. The Chaffee County Sheriff's Office received the first 9-1-1 call at 1736 and, in turn, notified the Gunnison County Sheriff's Office. Both county sheriff and fire departments responded.

CREW INFORMATION

The left seat pilot, age 31, held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and instrument ratings, dated June 18, 2002. He also held a first class airman medical certificate, dated January 28, 2003, with the limitation: "Holder shall wear corrective eye lenses while exercising the privileges of his airman certificate." When the pilot applied for the medical certificate, he estimated he had logged 171 total flight hours and 26 hours in the previous 6 months. According to the airplane operator's records, the pilot had logged approximately 190 flight hours.

The right seat pilot, age 54, held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and instrument ratings, dated December 09, 2002. He also held a second class airman medical certificate, dated January 15, 2004, with the limitation: "Holder shall wear corrective eye lenses while exercising the privileges of his airman certificate." When the pilot applied for the medical certificate, he estimated he had logged 256 total flight hours and 41 hours in the previous 6 months. According to the airplane operator's records, the pilot had logged approximately 234 flight hours.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

N911JR (s/n 17276224), a model 172P, was manufactured by the Cessna Aircraft Company in 1984. It was equipped with a Lycoming O-320-D2J engine (s/n L-11292-39A), rated at 160 hp, driving a McCauley 2-blade, all-metal, fixed-pitch propeller (m/n DTM7557M1, s/n EB117).

According to the airplane maintenance records, the last 100-hour inspection of the airframe, engine, and propeller was performed on July 21, 2004, at 10,327.7 hours. The last annual inspection of the airframe was accomplished on August 29, 2003, at 9,837.4 hours, and the last annual inspection of the engine and propeller was accomplished on November 26, 2003, at 10,029.3 hours. The engine was last overhauled on November 9, 2001, at 9,049.9 hours. As of the last 100-hour inspection, the engine had accumulated 1,277.8 hours since major overhaul. The last IFR certification check of the pitot-static system and altimeter was accomplished on April 4, 2003.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Weather observed at 1711 at the Salida Mountain (MYP) remote AWOS (automated weather observation station) facility, located at coordinates 38 degrees, 29 minutes, 55 seconds north latitude, and 106 degrees, 20 minutes, 22 seconds west longitude, or approximately 1 mile east of the accident site, was as follows: Wind, calm; visibility, (greater than) 10 statute miles; sky condition, clear; temperature 17 degrees C.; dew point, -08 degrees C.; altimeter setting, 30.79 inches of mercury.

Weather observed at 1755 at the Gunnison Airport (GUC) AWOS, located 20 miles west of the accident site, was as follows: Wind, 320 degrees at 16 knots, gusts to 20 knots; visibility, (greater than) 10 statute miles; sky condition, clear; temperature, 27 degrees C.; dew point, -06 degrees C.; altimeter setting, 30.39 inches of mercury.

Weather observed at 1553 at the Montrose Airport (MTJ) AWOS facility, shortly after N911JR departed, was as follows: Wind, 340 degrees at 11 knots; visibility, (greater than) 10 statute miles; sky condition, clear; temperature, 33 degrees C.; dew point, 03 degrees C.; altimeter setting, 30.25 inches of mercury; remarks, sea level pressure, 1011.57 mb.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was located 221 feet inside the Gunnison-Chaffee County line, and 117 feet north of Gunnison County Road 237 (Old Monarch Pass Road). The coordinates were 38 degrees, 29.925 minutes north latitude, and 106 degrees, 20.347 minutes west longitude, and at an elevation of 11,418 feet msl. The summit of the Continental Divide, toward which the airplane was flying, is at an elevation of 11,530.

The airplane was aligned on a magnetic heading of 114 degrees. The nose section was canted to the right on a heading of 126 degrees. The left and right wings were aligned on magnetic headings of 065 degrees and 237 degrees, respectively. The airplane impacted perpendicular to the mountain slope. From the airplane, the uphill and downhill slopes measured +24 degrees (45%) and -37 degrees (75%), respectively. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. The engine had been exposed to the fire, was sooted and black. All the accessories had been burned off. The descending propeller blade was bent slightly forward, and the ascending blade was twisted and curled aft. Both blades bore 90-degree chordwise scratches on the cambered surfaces, particularly at the tips. Flight control continuity was established. The flap actuator was not extended. The elevator trim actuator was extended 1.1 inches. According to the Cessna Aircraft Company's investigator, this equated to the flaps being up and the elevator trim being 5 degrees tab down (elevator up).

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Autopsies were performed on the two pilots by the Gunnison County Coroner's Office. In Addition FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) performed toxicological screens.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

On August 11, 2004, the airframe was examined and the engine was disassembled and inspected. No mechanical discrepancies were noted.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Using the weather observed at the MYP remote AWOS facility, the density altitude was computed to be an estimated 14,300 feet msl. According to the 1984 Cessna 172P Skyhawk "Information Manual," the airplane's service ceiling is 13,000 feet.

In addition to the Federal Aviation Administration, parties to the investigation included the Cessna Aircraft Company and Textron Lycoming.

The wreckage was released to the insurance company on August 11, 2004.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.