7-4 Bonanza down near Aspen

Discussion in 'Aviation Mishaps' started by Wagondriver, Jul 5, 2021.

  1. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    For those interested, here's a link to Colorado Div of Aeronautics with downloadable maps and airport directory. New Mexico has similar. In fact most state Transportation depts have similar.

    https://www.codot.gov/programs/aeronautics
     
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  2. sarangan

    sarangan Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    There was another bonanza that went down in Telluride last October while flying into a blind canyon. That was also flown by an airline pilot.
     
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  3. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I have seen many transients not do this here in Gallup where D/A is usually 8000 plus in summer, up to 10,000.

    When I pretty much lived at the airport I would query transients to see if they had high D/A knowledge, and offer suggestions with intent to help. Usually I would say I am interested in buying a plane similar to their plane and ask questions on performance and how much do they need to lean. Most folks were friendly and listened to suggestions, and then there was those that would say something like bugger off, I know how to fly, so I would reply that I just don't want to see any more folks die trying to take off.
     
  4. Rockymountain

    Rockymountain Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Pretty good list. Just a minor addition, when climbing in a canyon, when you fly up the side, fly the windward side. Helps in 2 ways. You get a natural updraft, and if you have to turn back into the canyon you are turning into a headwind with a decreased turn radius. That knowledge may have even saved Cory Liddle.

    I also recommend crossing a ridge by 1000 feet for every 10 knots of wind at mountain top. So crossing a 14,000 ft. mountain with 40 knots at mountain top, I want to be 18,000 feet. Every year people get themselves in trouble in the mountains. A good mountain flying course is not only useful, but can be fun.

     
  5. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I think you meant to say the side of the canyon that is downwind. Let's say you have a N/S canyon and the wind is west. You would want to be on the east side. So downwind of the "canyon", but the upwind side of the east ridge. Again think that what you meant, but might be confusing. Correct me if I understood it wrong.
     
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  6. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Rule of thumb crossing mountain tops....if winds > 20 knots, go someplace else. Many (most?) of our spam cans can't get to 18K. I've been at 15K once in the cherokee, and surprised I made it.
     
  7. Rokke214

    Rokke214 Pre-Flight

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    That’s one of my rules of thumb. It sounds limiting but not too hard to live by if you fly before noon. And it doesn’t take too many times of ignoring it before you figure out why it’s a good rule of thumb.
     
  8. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    Not even a little bit. It happens here in Canada, too. Flatlanders from the East decide to take a trip out to the legendarily beautiful Rockies, and those Rockies sometimes reach out and kill them. I don't understand why there isn't a legal requirement for mountain flight training. It's not at all the same thing as flying over the rest of North America. Winds on the lee side of mountains drag you down. Rotors roll you. Blind canyons are deceptive, and there are a lot of them. The weather can change in just a few minutes. CAVU can go to zero-zero pretty quick. The clouds are full of granite.

    In the college-based flight training program I used to work in we had a mountain flight training course. It was part of the degree program. One has to know the POH/AFM, the weather, and every flight leg should be charted and the mag heading marked on it to avoid getting sucked into the wrong valley. One has to know when to turn around and get out, fast. One has to have the minimum-radius turn skills. Lots of stuff just not obvious to the non-mountain pilot.

    Training is the best value for a dollar. It's always there and working, it weighs nothing. Some people are always looking for safety devices to add to their airplanes, when the most effective device is a course that they add to themselves, and which they still own when they sell the airplane.

    Ignorance is a huge killer. Huge.

    Edit: I should add that there are numerous airplanes that have disappeared in the Canadian mountains and never been found. One of the factors there, besides the lack of a reliable ELT, is the ease with which pilots get directionally disoriented and end up going far off the planned route. SAR can cruise back and forth all day for weeks, looking for a missing airplane, but if it's not within maybe 20 miles of the flight-planned route it won't be found.

    An article from 1958: https://archive.macleans.ca/article/1958/1/4/the-toughest-flying-country-in-the-world
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2021
  9. TrueCourse

    TrueCourse Pre-takeoff checklist

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    What behavior is encouraged? Flying beyond ones level of experience or in an airplane more capable than the pilot? Or, something else? Whatever it is, how is it encourage?
     
  10. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route

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    The second one. Just my perception but with planes, speedboats, motorcycles, etc. I feel it is prudent to start small and work your way up as you mature in your experience. Often I have a perception that here on the forum we encourage newbies to get them more plane than their experience would normally allow just because they have the pocketbook to do it. Again my perception is that new pilots of means are often impatient to get the flying SUV that will for fill all of their travel requirements. I feel encouraging that behavior is a disservice to the pilot, his family and general aviation as a whole. While anybody including high time pilots can get into trouble, I’m really talking about the low time entry-level pilots who have more money than sense that have recently discovered personal aircraft as an alternative to the airlines.

    I recently started riding motorcycle. I could easily have afforded it but I did not start off with 1000 cc cafe racer as my first motorcycle.

    Aviation is not tolerant of mistakes or ignorance.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2021
  11. TrueCourse

    TrueCourse Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I understand your point.

    I just listened to the ATC tapes (liveATC) and learned of the following:

    For those that knew them, the pilot that was working the radio had a slight accent (Latin?, not sure).

    Pilot could not accept LINDZ departure procedure because they could not climb to 16,000. Instead they would depart VFR. Ground asks what their intentions were after departure, if they were going to go “‘down valley’ before east bound turn or going to go ‘northeast though the ridge?”. Pilot responds they would make their decision once they took off, “once we see what’s going on”. Pilot stated several times after takeoff that he wasn’t familiar with the area and asked for clarification on the valley ATC previously mentioned.

    It sounds as if the holding pattern climb was either last minute decision or was an option that they took advantage of, rather than being a definite plan before takeoff to climb in that holding pattern. Tower said to climb while over the city of Aspen.

    Pilot was advised to notify tower when they reached a suitable altitude for continuing to the east. They eventually said “we are going to continue east, we are above it”. Remember this was when N36JJ was at about 10,000 feet. Tower acknowledged and then a few minutes later advised them frequency change was approved because they were leaving his airspace. He immediately responds and asks what frequency was recommended but Aspen didn’t hear that and acknowledge, because a few minutes later tower again says frequency change approved. The airplane didn’t answer. They either tried their own frequency, we’re out of range, or worse. Aspen tower never said anymore to them and didn’t call them again.

    Yes, they were totally unprepared.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2021
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  12. texasclouds

    texasclouds Pattern Altitude

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  13. sarangan

    sarangan Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    What's puzzling to me is why they went down that route. Was it a mistake, or was it intentional? Independence Pass can be flown under the right circumstances with the right experience, but the route they actually took seems way harder than Independence Pass.
     
  14. TrueCourse

    TrueCourse Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Just my opinion based on how it sounded: Given that they never mentioned Independence Pass and they weren’t familiar with their choices, I’m not sure I would consider it a mistake of choosing the “wrong valley”. If they had chosen another valley and made it, I’m not sure it would have been anything more than luck.
     
  15. Wagondriver

    Wagondriver Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I also take issue with the behavior that is "encouraged" on this site. We are all adults, we make our own decisions.
    I bought a 180 at 150 or so hours with 67 hours of tailwheel. I am now about 650 hours and 450 or so tailwheel. The suggestion was made that maybe for my first airplane I buy something smaller. I am a working man, 45 years old at the time. I didn't want to spend a couple of years learning to get to where I wanted to be. BUT, I hired an instructor to get me up to speed and then flew with another competent 180 pilot before I ventured out on my own.
    Poor decisions are poor decisions, high time low time, still poor decisions. The ATP rated pilot in this plane did not save them, should he have waited to step up to a Bonanza? I would guess he had the attitude of "I can fly this tin can, its nowhere near as hard to fly as the jets or twins I fly".
    Sounds like tower questioned their route, probably because no piston singles fly that route! It can be done, but its not advised, especially at 5:30 on July 3.

    Even IF they had flown up valley to independence pass, I believe they would have perished nonetheless. They never got above 11,000.
     
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  16. TrueCourse

    TrueCourse Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I didn’t actually hear ATC “questioning” their route. It was more of a “what will you be doing?”. Also, everyone seems to be knocking the experienced (ATP?) pilot, but he may not have been at the controls. It may have been the other guy. Regardless, a lot of complacency occurred. I’m all for building experience then ‘moving on up’. Just because airplanes may be promoted as easier or more capable (technology, power, features, etc.), doesn’t mean pilots won’t get themselves into trouble.
     
  17. Dave Theisen

    Dave Theisen En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Wow, wrong part of the country to not have a plan.

    As far as this forum, I’ve never really seen a lot encouragement for people to do more than they are prepared for.
     
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  18. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Another possible poor decision that contributed....where they dependent on that famous blue/green/whatever line on the GPS?

    One of the rules in the Colorado and New Mexico mountain classes is TURN OFf THE BLOODY GPS!
     
  19. 3393RP

    3393RP En-Route

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  20. sarangan

    sarangan Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Actually, a GPS can be very helpful in making sure you don't go up the wrong valley, because many of them can look the same. Custom waypoints can be created to plot a route through the lowest terrain to avoid confusion during flight. The question here is if they had such a plan, or if they just decided to go up some valley and see how it goes.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2021
  21. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Colorado Pilots mountain class is really Colorado Pilots High Altitude Airport class, same for the New Mexico Pilots class.
    During the class (not the flying) each person has a paper flight plan form to fill out. The course is provided to the students, including airports, passes and geographical points that are not FAA waypoints but part of the course.
    Easier with a paper chart but the iPad is ok during planning.
    Plot the course with reporting points every N miles or so.
    That's the VFR flight plan and file it.
    Then, if you are using GPS, load that course into the GPS.
    Each waypoint, contact ATC and let them know you are at that waypoint.
    This way, if something goes wrong, the county sheriff and CAP have a good starting point to find the wreckage.
     
  22. Torque beast

    Torque beast Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I don’t think there is bad encouragement going on here. If fact, I see the exact opposite going on. This thread is a perfect example as I have learned a lot on mountain flying by reading comments made here. I have also read numerous other threads where good advice is given. As far as the plane goes I don’t think it has anything to do with this. It doesn’t matter if they were in a 140 Cherokee or 300 hp Bonanza they should have plenty of training in that particular aircraft and know it’s limitations. I have flown mine from the Rockies to the east coast but have not flown into the mountains yet for two reasons

    1) I’m still learning this plane even though I have over 100 hrs in so far I am seeing different performances with it in different parts of the country throughout different months of the year. Personal limit I have set.

    2) I have not had a mountain flying course or training

    Once I’m comfortable with 1 then I will move onto 2 and this was driven by advice I got from this site. I really wanted to fly the Rockies last year but this site talked me out of it until I’m better prepared.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  23. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Link to LiveATC recording ??
     
  24. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    To bad they were in a bonanza. If they had been in a lower performance airplane all the bad decisions and lack of training wouldn’t have killed them that day.
     
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  25. Cloudhound

    Cloudhound Pre-Flight

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    I will never understand how these types of airplane fatalities happen.

    Two certificated pilots pointed their airplane at terrain, and kept it pointed there until they collided with it, on a clear day.
     
  26. Kelvin Mims

    Kelvin Mims Filing Flight Plan

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    I like to be able to see over the mountains before I try to cross them. And I'll circle as long as needed to accomplish that. And you really need to know how to lean out the engine for best performance. Flying into canyons is historically a killer. It's a real shame and a terrible way to go for any pilot....
     
  27. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    FIFY

    I used to fly a C-206 around Mt. McKinley doing tours. Notice I said around, not over...:lol: The gps was invaluable to me for identifying peaks. There was a few mountain passes that were too long to see through to the other side.

    No one ever told me I would be at 10,000msl, 500 agl and still have 10,000 feet of ground above me. I really put all my mountain flying learnin' to work that summer.
     
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  28. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Line Up and Wait

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    IMO the controller made a mistake in using a local term that outsiders might not understand. I've got a buddy who is a 6th generation Aspen native. "Down valley" is a cardinal direction for the locals. If those guys had flown towards Glenwood Springs to climb, then turned back east, they would have been fine. I'm not blaming ATC, but accidents are an accumulation of errors, and commonly understood phraseology might have helped the pilots comprehend their options better.

    Also gotta wonder if those pilots knew how to read lines of contour on a topographic map. I've done military operations along the divide in that area in winter. The maps draw a vivid picture of the terrain, but you gotta know how to read them. If they were even flying with VFR charts.

    dscn0136.JPG
     
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  29. AKBill

    AKBill En-Route

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    A controller might just think that someone flying in their airspace has done the proper flight planning. I have made some bad decisions over the years flying, but I can say for sure not one has been because of the way a controller worded something....

    I may add that I have flown over/in/around remote mountainous locations for years. If you don't educate yourself about the hazards you could possibly encounter during a flight it is just poor airmanship.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2021
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  30. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Line Up and Wait

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    I think we all agree there was plenty of poor ADM here. But that does not negate the value of observations about other aspects of the system that may improve safety. I'm not a controller but I'm guessing that using using non-charted local terms with transient traffic is frowned upon.
     
  31. A1Topgun

    A1Topgun Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    The pilots landed coming in from the west then departed to head east. If they did not know which way was down the valley, they should not have a pilot certificate.
     
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  32. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Line Up and Wait

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    So you are opposed to clear ATC communications using commonly understood phraseology?
     
  33. A1Topgun

    A1Topgun Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Oh, no. I am all for common terminology. But still "up the valley" and "down the valley" are pretty hard to misconstrue.
     
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  34. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Line Up and Wait

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    That's my point. The controller did not say "down the valley". He said "down valley". Everyone from Aspen knows what that means, so it is often said as a single word, eg "downvalley", but it's not a phrase most flatlanders would be familiar with. The only people I have EVER heard say it is my buddy the 6th generation Aspen native and his family. They say it all the time.

    Again, not absolving the pilots of any blame or attempting to place any on ATC. Just pointing out a phrasing nuance that, said slightly differently, might have caused a light bulb in the pilot's brain to go on. I assume climbing out to the NW (downvalley) to gain altitude before reversing course to cross the divide is a common local tactic, which is probably why tower asked. I think I would prefer that to a circling climb.
     
  35. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    If a controller told me to fly downvalley my reply would be “unfamiliar, which way is downvalley “
     
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  36. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Line Up and Wait

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    Well of course, because they did not translate it into Tennessean, eg "down the holler".
     
  37. BrianNC

    BrianNC En-Route

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  38. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You know, I was kind of wondering the same thing, but I wasn't thinking about charts. What I do on every flight is put a flight plan i on the Foreflight map, click the navlog page, look at that, then click the profile page and take a long hard look at that to make sure that I'm not going to hit anything at the altitude I selected, like a mountain. Then I go to the magenta line on the map, and look at it and both sides for obstacles that might be concerning. All in all it takes a few minutes.
     
  39. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Line Up and Wait

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    Google Earth 3D view is pretty incredible for visualizing terrain. But that would assume someone recognizes the challenge and bothers to plan in advance. This one smells more like "hey let's do a fuel stop at Aspen on our XC, that's a cool place."

    Earth.PNG
     
  40. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's why I force myself to do it for short rides too, that and wx briefs.