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Into Thin Air

Accident Case Study

It’s early evening on July 3, 2021, when two pilots in a newly purchased Beechcraft Bonanza G36 depart Aspen, Colorado, for their home base on the East Coast. They plan to cross the Sawatch mountain range—with peaks topping 14,000 feet—after an initial climb out of Aspen.

Join the AOPA Air Safety Institute as we follow the Bonanza’s likely encounter with high density altitude—an inherent hazard in high terrain significantly degrading aircraft performance. Deceptively upsloping terrain would leave no escape for the flatland pilots facing the canyon trapping them.

The Accident Case Study series uses FAA ATC radio communication transcripts, NTSB documentation, and video animation to recreate accidents and share critical lessons, so we can recognize and avoid similar mistakes.

Tablet: Compatible
Length: 12 mins
Topic: Aeronautical Decision Making, Flight Planning and Preflight
Accident Forgiveness: Eligible

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