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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.

Tablet: Compatible
Length: 12 mins
Topic: Aeronautical Decision Making, Flight Planning and Preflight
FAA WINGS: Not Eligible*
Accident Forgiveness: Eligible

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.

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*WINGS credits are submitted to the FAA every one to two business days and will appear on your FAA transcript shortly after. Remember the email address used for your AOPA web account—the one that you will use to earn your ASI completion certificate for credit—MUST MATCH YOUR FAA WINGS ACCOUNT email address, or you will not receive WINGS credit. Thank you.