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N1080A accident description

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Crash location 43.386389°N, 110.528334°W
Nearest city Jackson Hole, WY
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Tail number N1080A
Accident date 12 Mar 2001
Aircraft type Beech A36
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On March 12, 2001, approximately 1215 mountain standard time (mst), a Beech A36 single-engine airplane, N1080A, was destroyed upon impact with terrain while in cruise flight near Pinnacle Peak, 16 miles southeast of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The airplane was registered to Litz Aviation and operated by the pilot. The private pilot and his three passengers received fatal injuries. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site and no flight plan was filed for this cross-country flight operating under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The personal flight originated from Garden City, Kansas, at 0900 central standard time (cst), with a destination of Jackson Hole.

The pilot obtained flight following services during the flight from Garden City to Jackson Hole. At 1029:19 mst (unless noted, all times are mst based on the 24-hour clock), the pilot reported to Salt Lake Air Route Traffic Control Center (SLC ARTCC) that the flight was level at 12,500 feet. At 1126:43, the SLC ARTCC controller made the following comment to the Jackson Hole controller: "And, uh, I'll pass this one, this guy's visual flight rules (VFR), and he said, supposedly going to Jackson. I don't know how he's gonna do that if those other guys shoot the ILS, but, maybe he'll change his plan.......he's VFR for now I should say." At 1127:16, the controller asked the pilot, "November one zero eight zero alpha, do you have the current Jackson weather?" The pilot responded, "Uh, no I don't. I was just fixing to get it, uh, eight zero alpha." The controller replied, "November eight zero alpha, the most current I have is the Jackson one eight one five (1115 mst) automatic observation, wind two zero zero at six, visibility seven, few clouds at two thousand one hundred, three thousand scattered, ceiling three thousand four hundred broken, temperature minus one, dew point minus seven, altimeter two niner niner four."

At 1129:00, the pilot stated, "Center this is Bonanza one zero eight zero alpha. I'm gonna descend on down to ten point five thousand." The controller replied, "Uh, eight zero alpha, roger, maintain VFR, Jackson altimeter two niner niner four. Are you familiar with the high terrain?" The pilot replied, "Uh, no, I'm not, eight zero alpha." The controller stated, "Okay, the, uh, your present position, you're right on the boundary between an area on your left, which is, uh, the minimum IFR altitude's (MIA) one zero thousand, on your right side, the, uh, minimum IFR altitude is one three thousand six hundred. However, you are approaching an area, uh, southeast of Jackson, where the minimum IFR altitude would be one four thousand, due to the high terrain." The pilot replied, "Okay, uh, uh, it looks like there's a valley down through there though, eight zero alpha." The controller responded, "November eight zero alpha, roger, maintain VFR. There's a, off to the left of your position, uh, there's a little bit lower MIA's, uh, south and southwest of Jackson. MIA's are one two thousand, and as you get to about eleven miles south of Jackson, it goes up to one two thousand niner hundred."

At 1136:34, radar data depicted the airplane level at 11,500 feet (3,300 feet agl) and approximately 40 nautical miles southeast of Jackson Hole, when it began a left turn toward the south. At 1139:36, the flight was approximately 5 nautical miles south of its 1136:34 position, which was approximately 45 nautical miles southeast of Jackson Hole, level at 10,800 feet (2,800 feet agl).

At 1139:43, the controller tried three times to contact the pilot of N1080A. The pilot of Northwest Airlines Flight 1515 advised the controller that the pilot of N1080A could hear him. The controller stated that he had some questions for the pilot of N1080A, and asked the Northwest pilot to relay his answers. The controller then asked the pilot of N1080A about his intentions. The pilot replied, "We'll be landing at, uh, Jackson Hole in a few minutes." The Northwest pilot stated, "Center, he'd like to turn back to the north and land at, uh, Jackson Hole." The controller responded, "Uh, Northwest fifteen fifteen, uh, roger I'm gonna lose him on radar here shortly. Advise him radar service terminated, squawk VFR, frequency change approved. When he gets close to Jackson he can contact Jackson tower, one one eight point seven zero." The Northwest pilot relayed this information. There were no further communications with the pilot of N1080A.

According to SLC ARTCC radar data, the last radar contact with N1080A was at 1141:31 at an altitude of 10,800 feet, approximately 48 nautical miles southeast of Jackson Hole, heading in a southwesterly direction. An emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal was subsequently reported in the Jackson Hole area.

The airplane wreckage was located by the Teton County Sheriff's Office search and rescue team on March 13, 2001, at approximately 1415 mst, on sloping, mountainous terrain, approximately 16 nautical miles southeast of Jackson Hole near Pinnacle Peak (elevation 10,800 feet) at an elevation of approximately 10,400 feet. The coordinates of the accident site were 43 degrees 23.18 minutes North latitude, 110 degrees 31.70 minutes West longitude.


The non-instrument rated private pilot (single-engine land) was issued his pilot's certificate on June 28, 1999. His most recent biennial flight review was on December 24, 2000. The pilot's total flight time was 445 hours, with 44 hours in the Beech A36, 4 hours of actual instrument flight time, and 9 hours of simulated instrument flight time. According to FAA records, the pilot's last third class aviation medical examination was performed on April 22, 1999. The medical certificate contained the following limitation, "Must wear corrective lenses."


The 1996-model Beech A36 (serial number E-3025), was a low wing, six-place airplane, with retractable landing gear. The airplane was powered by a Continental IO-550-B engine rated at 300-horsepower, and a McCauley three-bladed, constant-speed propeller. The last annual inspection was completed on March 8, 2001. At the time of the last annual inspection, the total time on the airframe was 1,163 hours.

The airplane was equipped and approved for day VFR, night VFR, and instrument flight rules (IFR) operations. Flight into known icing conditions was prohibited. The airplane was also equipped with an oxygen system and a 3-axis autopilot.


At 0606 cst, the pilot obtained a weather briefing from the Wichita Flight Service Station (FSS). The weather briefer informed the pilot that there was an IFR precaution for the area of intended flight, covering an area from Laramie and Rawlins, Wyoming, and Rapid City, South Dakota, extending down to the Garden City, Kansas area. The IFR precaution was for moderate rime to mixed icing below 14,000 feet north and east of Garden City, and west of Cheyenne, Wyoming, between 8,000 and 18,000 feet. The briefer reported that the frontal system was well beyond the pilot's route of flight, and that a high pressure system was developing in the area. The briefer stated that in northeastern Colorado, and in southern Wyoming, some cloud layers would be encountered.

The briefer reported that 200 miles to the northwest of Garden City, in the area of Akron, Colorado, the latest observation reported visibility 6 miles in fog, scattered clouds at 5,000 feet, overcast clouds at 7,000 feet. Burlington, Colorado, 40 miles southeast of Akron, reported sky clear below 12,000 feet, 10 miles visibility, with a 2 degree temperature/dewpoint spread.

The briefer reported the weather at Cheyenne, approximately 300 miles northwest of Garden City, as a few clouds at 5,000 feet, broken clouds at 6,500 feet, ceiling and overcast clouds at 8,500 feet, temperature minus 3 degrees, dewpoint minus 8 degrees. He then stated that Big Piney, Wyoming, located 75 miles southeast of Jackson Hole, was reporting overcast clouds at 5,000 feet with 10 miles visibility. He further reported that Jackson Hole was reporting broken clouds at 3,700 feet, overcast clouds at 4,300 feet, 10 miles visibility, temperature minus 3 degrees, dewpoint minus 8 degrees, wind 200 degrees at 9 knots.

The pilot was then advised that in the Cheyenne area, until 0700, light snow was forecasted, but after 0700 it would be scattered clouds at 6,000 feet, broken clouds at 9,000 feet, wind 330 degrees at 18 knots gusting to 28 knots, with visibilities unrestricted. The briefer also reported that the forecast for Laramie, Wyoming, located 44 miles west-northwest of Cheyenne, was similar to Cheyenne's, with scattered clouds at 4,000 feet, and broken clouds at 10,000 feet by 0900.

The briefer also reported that the forecast for the pilot's final destination, Jackson Hole, was scattered clouds at 3,000 feet , broken clouds at 4,500 feet, with occasional light snow which should be gone by 0800. The briefer further stated that later on in the day Jackson Hole was forecast to be scattered clouds at 3,500 feet, broken clouds at 5,000 feet, with gusty winds.

The briefer then gave the pilot the winds aloft forecast for 9,000 feet and 12,000 feet along the intended route of flight. He then asked the pilot if there was anything else he could do for him. The pilot replied, "That'll be all." The briefing was concluded at 0613 (cst).

The following Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF) for Jackson Hole (JAC) was issued by the Riverton National Weather Service office:


Issued 0340, March 12 Valid 0400, March 12 to 0400, March 13 Wind 220 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 5 miles, light snow, scattered clouds at 1,000 feet, broken clouds at 3,000 feet Temporary 0400 to 0600, visibility 2 miles, light snow, broken clouds at 100 feet From 1300, wind 270 degrees at 8 knots, visibility greater than 6 miles, scattered clouds at 2,000 feet, broken clouds at 3,500 feet Temporary 0600 to 1000, wind 270 degrees at 10 knots gusting to 17 knots, visibility 4 miles, light snow, broken clouds at 1,500 feet From 1000, wind 210 degrees at 8 knots, visibility greater than 6 miles, shower vicinity, scattered clouds at 3,000 feet, broken clouds at 5,000 feet Becoming 2000 to 2200, March 12, wind 220 degrees at 7 knots

At 1155, the JAC observation was wind 230 at 6 knots, visibility 7 statute miles, scattered clouds at 2,000 feet, broken clouds at 2,900 feet, overcast clouds at 7,000 feet, temperature minus 2 degrees, dewpoint minus 6 degrees, and altimeter 29.96 inches of mercury.

At 1215, the JAC observation was wind 210 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 7 statute miles, few clouds at 2,200 feet, broken clouds at 2,800 feet, overcast clouds at 3,400 feet, temperature minus 1 degree, dewpoint minus 6 degrees, and altimeter 29.97 inches of mercury. Conversion of the cloud heights to msl, using the JAC elevation of 6,445 feet msl, indicated the cloud bases were between 8,645 and 9,845 feet msl.

At 1155, a Cessna Citation, located 20 miles south of the Jackson Hole VOR, issued a pilot report that moderate rime/mixed icing existed from 12,000 to 8,000 feet.

An 1130 visible satellite image showed a band of clouds near the location where radar data indicated the airplane turned south away from Jackson Hole. Infrared data for the same time period indicated cloud tops in the area to be between 12,000 - 12,500 feet. Visible satellite images for 1145, 1200, and 1215 showed an area of scattered to broken clouds just west of N1080A's last radar (1141:31) position extending northward toward the Jackson area. The clouds became broken to overcast near the Pinnacle Peak area.


Both wings remained attached to the airplane. The leading edges of both wings exhibited aft crushing along their entire length. The right wing tip remain attached to the wing, while the left wing tip had separated from its wing. The left and right ailerons remained attached to the wings. The left flap remained attached to its wing, and the right flap separated from its wing, but remained intact. The left flap actuator measured 1.75 inches. The right flap actuator had separated from the flap, and measured 1.5 inches. The normal range of travel for the flap actuator is 1.72 inches for flaps up to 6.22 inches for flaps down. The aileron trim actuator measured 1.63 inches, which corresponds to approximately four degrees tab down. Both left and right main landing gear remained attached to their respective wings, and were in the retracted position.

Both left and right horizontal stabilizers and elevators remained attached to the aft fuselage and appeared undamaged. Left and right elevator trim tabs remained attached to the respective elevators. Both left and right elevator trim actuators measured 1.25 inches, which corresponds to approximately one degree tab up.

The vertical stabilizer remained attached to the aft fuselage and appeared undamaged. The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer and sustained damage to the lower end.

The forward portion of the fuselage, including the instrument panel, exhibited aft crushing. The flap handle was found in the DOWN position. The landing gear selector handle was found in the UP position.

The engine remained partially attached to the firewall, with the forward end of the engine being deflected downward and aft. No pre-impact damage was noted on the engine. The crankshaft was separated. The fracture point was approximately two inches aft of the propeller flange. The fracture surface was smeared and displayed 45-degree shear lips. No anomalies were noted that would preclude normal operation.

All three propeller blades remained attached to the propeller hub. Blade "A" was deflected aft approximately 10 degrees, and exhibited trailing edge damage. Blade "B" was deflected aft approximately 10 degrees, and exhibited chordwise scratching. Blade "C" was deflected aft approximately 45 degrees, and exhibited chordwise gouging. The propeller spinner remained attached to the propeller hub and exhibited aft crushing.

The Instantaneous Vertical Speed Indicator (IVSI) was found indicating a rate of ascent of 550 feet per minute, and the fuel flow indicator read 10 gallons per hour. The cylinder head temperature reading was 175 degrees C, and the exhaust gas temperature (EGT) reading was mid-range. The horizontal situation indicator (HSI) was centered on 330 degrees, and the attitude direction indicator (ADI) was indicating a 4 degrees nose up attitude.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Teton County Coroner's Office, Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Toxicological testing on the pilot, performed by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for alcohol, drugs, cyanide, and carbon monoxide.


The airplane wreckage was released on June 26, 2001, to a representative of the owner's insurance company.

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.