Hazards of mountain flying: Crashes in the Colorado Rockies

S. P. Baker, M. W. Lamb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Between 1964 and 1987, 232 airplanes crashed within 50 nautical miles of Aspen, CO; 90% were general aviation crashes. A total of 202 people died and 69 were seriously injured. The societal cost averaged more than $4 million annually. Most pilots were experienced and many were flight instructors, but 44% had flown less than 100 hours in the type of plane in which they crashed. Forty-one percent of the pilots were out-of-state residents. Crashes in the study area were more likely to be fatal than in the rest of Colorado. Airplanes with three or four occupants and low-powered four-seater aircraft were over-represented among crashes involving failure to outclimb rising terrain. In a subset of crashes examined for restraint use, 50% of the front seat occupants using only lap belts were killed, compared to 13% of those who also wore shoulder restraints. Preventive recommendations include shoulder restraint use and better training in mountain flying, with incentives provided by the FAA and insurance companies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-536
Number of pages6
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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