LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — The National Transportation Safety Board said investigators did not find something wrong with a small plane’s controls, which the pilot claimed to be the cause of the crash.
“A Federal Aviation Administration air safety inspector completed an on-scene examination of the
airplane. During the examination, flight control continuity was established from the control yokes to the
elevator control surface with no binding or mechanical anomalies noted. A visual examination of the
other flight controls revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation,” the report said.
Larimer County Sheriff’s Office responders reached the crash site at 7:16 p.m. on Sept. 11 and found two adult occupants who had safely made it out of the plane with minor injuries. Both occupants were transported to a local hospital.
The NTSB report stated the pilot and flight instructor brothers were flying over the Horsetooth Reservoir when they said they encountered an engine issue as they were flying in a Cessna 172 airplane. The pilot told investigators that to avoid anyone on the water, he decided to climb and head west.
The flight instructor told investigators in a written statement that his brother reduced power to “observe more of the scenery,” but he said he was then unable to climb due to a “jammed elevator,” the report read. The flight instructor took over and confirmed there was an issue with the control.
“In an effort to avoid congested areas, they maneuvered to the reservoir and attempted to free the jammed elevator by ‘wiggling the flight control in and out,’ which resulted in the airplane pitching down,” the flight instructor told investigators.
The pilot said he didn’t clear the terrain and the plane’s left wing was damaged after hitting a tree. The plane ended up landing in the area of Sawmill Trail.
Witness photographs were included in the report, showing the plane “low over the water as it approached one of only three visible boats.” The plane appeared headed toward the shore at first, but then it took a left and ended up flying low over one boat, climbed, took a right turn and flew low and close to another boat before flying toward a valley, according to the report.
The NTSB said a detailed engine and airframe examination are pending.