Precautionary landing bends plane

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The pilot reported that, while en route, the air was “unstable and choppy,” and the Cessna 182 did not climb as expected.

He added that the airplane “managed to climb to 9,500′ (mean sea level) and maintain the altitude,” but then had a “sudden and violent drop in altitude followed by a down draft.”

Subsequently, the airplane descended to 500′ above the ground and was between two hills and still “struggling to climb.”

He observed what appeared to be a dirt plateau near Albuquerque, N.M., followed by a cliff and decided to land on the plateau to “avoid possibly falling off the cliff.” During the landing, the airplane nosed over.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, empennage, and right wing.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable cause: The pilot’s decision to continue flight in mountainous terrain with downdraft conditions, which necessitated a precautionary landing on unsuitable terrain.

NTSB Identification: GAA18CA262

This May 2018 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

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