Crash at Loveland Ski Area, Colo

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by pikespeakmtnman, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. pikespeakmtnman

    pikespeakmtnman Pre-takeoff checklist

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  2. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I have no knowledge the the aircraft or the pilot but I wonder...No one I know on this list (or anyone else) who lives in Colorado would follow I70 between Denver and Vail in a single engine spam can, 'specially in the summer.

    For those wondering about the geography....I70 is at 11k at the entrance of the tunnel (west bound), the top of the tunnel is over 14k, and the road winds thru a long narrow canyon approaching the tunnel. Take a look at the Denver sectional. At this time stamp, the DA on the road is over 14k, which would make the top of the mountain the tunnel runs thru to be well over 16k.

    Can't read the article without logging in. But the same article is on the Denver Post webside, and local tv channels.

    Oh yeah, and USAToday picked it up just a few minutes ago. Someone else can watch it and report back.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2014
  3. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think flyingcheesenawgin did it in a 182 when he made his western states tour a couple-r-three-r-four years ago. Kent did it west-to-east. You'd have to be above the high terrain by about Georgetown and stay above the peaks all the way to the ridgeline if going east-to-west. As I've said in other threads, no real reason to go that way and the terrain is just too rough to justify needless overflight.

    Another example: the feller from Carbondale or Glenwood Springs who dumped the 182 en-route to BDU and died evidently followed I-70. No other way to crash near Blackhawk unless yer lost.
     
  4. Ghery

    Ghery Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I saw a story on 9New's website about this. Beautiful clear day when it happened.
     
  5. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Next time someone says, "oh this high density mountain stuff is no big deal" just kick him or her really, really hard. This happens way, way too often.
    :(
     
  6. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I am in northwest New Mexico right now..... AWOS just reported the density altitude at 10,000 ft. Airport altitude is 6500 ft. 3:40pm MDT. I can really feel it in a turbo charged twin Cessna.
     
  7. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Can we say we did it on our attorney's advice?
     
  8. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Reporting three fatalities now. :(
     
  9. CT4ME

    CT4ME Cleared for Takeoff

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    PA-28-235. Dang, looks like plenty of meadows and a nice road. Maybe just stalled while trying to do the tight turn.
     
  10. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The meadows aren't flat by any stretch of the imagination....the road is always busy. Not a good place to have a problem at all.
     
  11. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    There are no meadows, the area is a very narrow canyon with a twisty road with rapidly rising terrain and no way out.

    People, please believe us , Clark, Mark, Mari and many others have lived out here for decades. We see the accident/fatality reports all the time about underpowered aircraft and people not familiar with the area, and not understanding the limitations of altitude.

    Remember the reduction in HP for every 1000 ft in altitude and that includes density altitude issues. During the summer at 13K, my 180 hp cherokee is running 55% and a grand total of 78 HP.

    Consider the 235 without a turbo, is running 55% at 13K and a grand total of 114 HP.

    So when Colorado Pilots does its annual veg & fruit run from Denver to Grand Junction, I stay home. For me it's a 2-3 day trip because I've got to go around the mountains. For the Mooneys & Bo's, they can do it in a day. Not me.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2014
  12. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser! Gone West

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    That is the understatement of the year....:sad::sad::sad:
     
  13. Everskyward

    Everskyward Experimenter

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    I remember arguing with someone here a few years ago who told someone else to follow I-70 over the mountains in a 172. I don't think he ever "got" what was wrong with that advice.
     
  14. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    You are about to enter a narrow canyon with a high altitude pass. Using a ten year out of date sectional found under the seat one can easily see the elevations. I fly a turbo charged aircraft that can go to 270, I still circle around over a valley until I have the altitude plus a healthy buffer before I cross any pass. The mountains don't move, it doesn't have to be that hard.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2014
  15. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Well, the local sheriff demonstrated his lack of knowledge..."appears the engine stalled".
    But 3 dead has now been confirmed.
     
  16. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ben - I'm to the point where I say get the training and then don't do the flight...it's harsh but ya gotta be seasoned in the mountains for folks to do this stuff.

    Hey, if there is a low altitude route or you can go around the big hills GREAT, just don't go at the fourteeners with a normally aspirated spam can.


    Mark and Murph are probably right, the terrain exceeded the aircraft's performance and the pilot didn't know how to recognize it. Cardinal rule: if you aren't seeing more of the valley on the other side of the ridge, you aren't above the ridge and it's time to go somewhere else.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2014
  17. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser! Gone West

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    That is so true.....

    Consider the two 400+ lb guys heading to OSH a few years back in a VERY nice Donier FO-27 vintage plane... They took off from Alpine Wy and flew 60 miles up valleys, canyons and draws at full power and was only able to gain 2600 feet,,, in 60 miles:eek:....... Flew right past the Jackson Hole airport and numerous other flat fields and roads to make a safe landing at. The climb performance was so anemic they actuaqlly hit the top of a fir tree and ripped off the wing tip and strobe light and still flew another 7 miles and proceeded to belly in 100 feet short of clearing the top of the Togwotee pass.:rolleyes2::rolleyes2:

    Put it in.... RIGHT.... next to the highway in a rocky field and destroyed the plane:mad2::mad2:.. It delayed my departure a few days while I removed the wreckage and brought it back to my yard.. They both were DAMN lucky to be able to crawl away..:redface:

    Sometimes you just can't protect people from themselves...:nono:
     

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  18. hyphen81

    hyphen81 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've been snowboarding at Loveland a few times, and I can say from even a novice perspective, I would NEVER attempt to fly through that pass. Others are absolutely correct when they say there's no place to go, and that stretch of highway has always been busy every time I've been on it. I just can't understand why people do things like this, and I pray I never make a similar decision.
     
  19. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The "why" of it is a little tough. Murph pointed out that the density altitude of the ridge-line likely equaled or exceeded the aircraft service ceiling. The absolute altitude looks okay on a chart so the unwary/untrained might try it and not realize they aren't going to make it until too late.

    With proper training a pilot won't even approach the high terrain until they have clearance which is why I said that you've got to be above the terrain by Georgetown which is the last good place to turn around in that valley and there is a pass to the south.

    If you're going to fly near the hills (not just a visit to an airport close to the mountains) make the commitment to get training and then proceed cautiously. You won't be Jer/ or Bowman just cause you had them ride along....and Sparky is gone.
     
  20. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    Honestly, how much training does this require? Circle up until you have the altitude plus a healthy buffer before proceeding. If the DA and aircraft performance is such that you can't get high enough, LAND or find another route. Sheesh.
     
  21. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    And one more...can we please stop assuming because it's named Loveland Pass" that there's a flyable route? The pass is at 11,990 msl, the highest pass in North America, and is merely a slightly lower area that's the original Highway 6 from Denver to Vail. When the tunnel was built, it was part of I-70 and the tunnel cut off 2+ hours of drive time and the danger of a twisty 2lane mountain road. If you drive the area, you will not see anything that you would consider a 'pass'.

    Got foreflight? Look at the area in Street mode, not VFR map mode.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
  22. Jthamilton

    Jthamilton Line Up and Wait

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    Ha, I remember having dinner at the sea plane base in Oshkosh with the seasoned pilot who flew that flight. To give him a little credit, someone told him he could do it! :yes:

    I may not be the most seasoned pilot in the mountains and I fly a Turbo Saratoga. Based on what I learned in the CPA mtn flying course I pretty much avoid the high stuff and I am very cautious about any passes that I may be flying through.

    Enroute to T82 2 weeks ago I overflew Rollins pass west of BJC at 17,500 at 7 am and it was beautiful. Coming home I Went the long way around Colorado to Cortez to Junction then sat for awhile allowing the air/convective activity to settle before venturing on to Steamboat. That day ended with 6.7 hours flying. I also heard the unfortunate search with CAP for the lost Mooney that took 2 lives. The mountains are completely unforgiving and its sad that 3 more have lost their lives doing something that most of us would never attempt.
     
  23. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Obviously it takes more training than many folks (those whose aircraft lay crumpled in the hills) have.

    And yes, there is a method to tell if you have sufficient altitude to clear terrain and a chart is not required. Yes, training is needed to use the method.
     
  24. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    There's far more to mountain flying than DA and aircraft performance. A guy that understands DA isn't trained enough to recognize numerous other hazards that will get him. Our BC mountains are full of busted airplanes, many of which are still missing. Too many of them were piloted by flatlanders who didn't see what the big deal was about mountain flying. They had a license, after all...

    Dan
     
  25. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    I understand, but let's consider that mountain flying isn't always mountain flying. Landing at Johnson creek vs. crossing a pass in the Rockies on your way somewhere isn't the same thing. I am referring to the later which is the low hanging fruit IMO. We can pick this thing to death, but why not start with enough altitude to cross a pass vs. pointing straight at it and hoping to climb enough before the ridge?
     
  26. Everskyward

    Everskyward Experimenter

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    Some people make it that hard, though. I think I remember you said that you fly a Turbo 206 which is what I flew quite a bit in the mountains. Yes, it has the power to get up to a sufficient altitude to cross at that point if you climb in advance. However, it might not have the power to fly up the valley below the pass elevation, hit a downdraft and climb over the ridge. There is also not that much room to turn around. Probably the mistake people make is to follow the valley too low thinking that they can out climb it, then they can't.

    http://denver.cbslocal.com/2014/06/30/plane-crashes-on-loveland-pass/

     
  27. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well it sounds good on paper. Bowman flat out told me not to trust the altimeter, I had to learn the visual cues. I still say out loud when I'm above a ridge.

    Now of course we have WAAS GPS with accurate terrain mapping which helps a bunch.
     
  28. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Loveland Pass is not low-hanging fruit. Just because it's marked as a pass on sectionals is irrelevant. I repeat - Loveland Pass is really a misnomer, it's 11,990 MSL, and the surrounding area is only slightly higher by no more than 1000ft. If you drive the road (and I do frequently with visitors - it's a fantastic view) it's easy to understand it's not really a pass as many people think of a pass. It's merely a slightly lower point along the Rocky Mountain range.

    LaVeta Pass is a more classic pass - the road is 9.5K and the mountains it cuts thru are more than 14K.

    A non-turbo 235 will have serious problems, particularly if they didn't realize where they were, how fast the terrain rises, yada yada yada...The size of the canyon (I-70 leading up to the tunnel) is fairly narrow compared to other areas (e.g. Leadville) and may not allow for a 180 turn. As Clark points out - be at crossing altitude by Georgetown or go another way. Georgetown (altitude 8500 msl) to the entrance to the tunnel (11K) is about 10 nm. Tunnel road to the top of Loveland Pass is really only 800 ft climb in altitude or so, but it's a twisty 2-lane mountain road.

    There's no record of the flight between BJC and Moab and the N number hasn't been published yet, so we don't know if they were familiar with the area or visitors from the flatlands.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
  29. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I love some of the local flight schools offering Mountain Flying courses. One CFI I know moved here less than a year ago and was taken on an orientation ride to Granby. Now he's allowed to teach mountain flying to his students.

    You have WAAS GPS, I have paper maps and Mark I eyeballs. But you bring up an excellent point about the altimeter. At this timestamp, compare the following stats:

    Rocky Mtn Metro KBJC elev 5670 DA 7170 alt 30.28
    Berthoud Pass AWOS 0CO elev 12,500 DA 13,850 alt 30.60
    Copper Mtn AWOS 12,100 DA 14,000 alt 30.55

    For discussion about the Loveland crash, using the Berthoud Pass details are close enough, both are on the east side of the tunnel, altho Berthoud is further north along Highway 40.

    So if the pilot took off from BJC and set the altimeter to 30.28 and did not check Berthoud, the altimeter difference would be a difference of 300+ feet. In a narrow canyon, that means a lot.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I'm on my way to the airport to finish waxing the cherokee. Racin' Rosies washed it last weekend (and it's cleaner than it has been since before I bought it!) and it deserves a really good waxing using Collinite 845.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
  30. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    Assuming you just took off from a field with a known elevation, why not trust the altimeter? We're not talking about perfect accuracy, just elevation plus a thousand minimum. Nothing says you can't keep climbing on the way in also.

    By low hanging fruit I mean climbing in a valley until you are well above the terrain. Something every pilot can do. The number doesn't matter, either the aircraft can do it or not. Point is to find out circling over a valley airport vs. just going for it. Do that and you don't have to grow a beard and wear plaid to cross the Rockies.
     
  31. danhagan

    danhagan Pattern Altitude

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    Not a lot, but everyone forgets down drafts and what margin of altitude they're comfortable losing before crossing. I've hit extreme unforecast turbulence in my area. Use the AGL to top of obstacle clearance (about 3500 feet in my area 4000 AGL and mountain peak 7500) and imaging what the wind can do running up that ramp and racing down the backside ... probably more impressive at Banning Pass in California using that formula.
     
  32. pikespeakmtnman

    pikespeakmtnman Pre-takeoff checklist

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  33. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    Are we talking about a standard 170 with 145 hp? If so, why would the pilot have even attempted it? Help me understand this.
     
  34. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I have seen larger changes in altimeter setting over short distances in the mountains. A three hundred foot change in 50 miles is common. Now that said, one should be clearing a pass by much more than 300 feet. I think Bowman's point was that the altimeter can fail and the visual technique is good. Right or wrong, that's what the training was.
     
  35. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    Of course you're right about downdrafts, but they don't typically exist in a vacuum right at the ridge. If you climb up above elevation, begin your path toward the ridge and start hitting down drafts, well that might be a good time to turn back. Assuming you ignore the warning signs, ignore a reasonable margin of altitude above terrain, then the higher you are the wider the area to do a 180 (assuming this pilot didn't cross at an angle) and still survive.

    All I'm saying is these basics could be taught in 10 minutes and should be part of the PTS. Mountain flying doesn't have to be a black art.
     
  36. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    PA-28-235 as previously identified in the thread. Probably near its service ceiling if I remember correctly so your question stands.
     
  37. CharlieTango

    CharlieTango Line Up and Wait

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    I fly out of KMMH where the terrain that I have to routinely cross or avoid is above 13,000' 3 miles south of the field which is at 7,100. Typically I need a minimum of 10,000'+ to make an east/west crossing. In this case I depart south-west and encounter terrain within 1-2 miles and that terrain will generally provide me with most of the lift that I need to make the crossing. I save about 15 minutes over climbing 1st and I save fuel and wear and tear.

    Over the decades I have seen the results of several aircraft flying into the rising terrain but that is not something that I am likely to do. I don't put myself in a position where I can't turn away towards lower terrain. The biggest risk I run is an engine failure while crossing the Sierra. After that lee side rotor.

    Glider pilots generally have the skills needed to fly towards a crossing without having the altitude 1st.

    I used to play a game where the objective is to climb and cross high terrain without configuring for a climb, without nose up trim and without pulling back on the stick. You are left finding lift and avoiding sink.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
  38. airguy

    airguy Cleared for Takeoff

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    You can DRIVE it in four hours, and it's quite a nice scenic run. :yes:
     
  39. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The accident numbers suggest a lot more training than is being received by some.

    The people who get into this predicament and have inadequate knowledge may and probably are a small percentage of the pilots who try it. That's true of most things in aviation we consider to be an extra layer of risk from crossing large bodies of water to significant crosswinds on landing to spins and aerobatics to scud running to [name your favorite poison].

    You can look at some of the questions that are asked on any aviation forum. While not stupid, many reflect a lack of both knowledge and, more importantly, to understand what risks they are encountering or to even imagine there are risks that they might not have considered.

    Illustration: A pilot who was visiting the area and wanted to do some density altitude training. Without even leaving the flats of metro Denver, he tried his best to get us into a stall spin accident on a takeoff, insisting that it was absolutely OK to use the same visual deck angle at a D-Alt of about 8,000' that caused no problem at a D-Alt of less than 1,000'. After all, that they way it's "supposed" to look in a PA-28 during takeoff and there was no reason he could imagine why it would not work everywhere.

    That's the thought process at work.

    We, of course, don't know at this point what caused this unfortunate mishap. Maybe it was the failure of an engine that worked. Maybe he simply wasn't leaned properly and it was indeed the engine that "stalled." Eyewitnesses are generally unreliable but if you give the accounts credence, it sure sounds like a steep turn accelerated stall/spin.
     
  40. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I have, frequently. Even too the train once. But flying is more fun, but not in a 180hp cherokee in the summer.