The very first thing I should do is extend my prayers for the families of those who survive [were left behind at home] this tragedy, for they are the one's who need the prayer the most.
Not a pilot yet, but doing lots of pre-study before I begin my training. I do have designs on owning and flying a high-performance light business jet, which happens to be the highest performing and most capable in its class [if it even has a class]. I also plan to make aerobatic flying a integral part of my future personal flying career as well. So, I want to make sure that I am as safe and proficient a pilot as I can be.
To that degree, I've been doing some study and came upon the topic of High Density Altitude.
I have not yet heard anyone string together the logic of where this pilot lived and operated his PC [Southern California] and compared that to where his ultimate destination was in Montana. Granted, his destination airport was not KFTG at over 5,500 ft pressure altitude, but it was well over 4,000 ft pressure altitude. I also realize that this is March and not middle July. But, the probability is growing [the more we learn] that this aircraft might have been at the very least, carrying more passengers [under the rules] than it should have been - children included. Children ranged from the middle teens down through two (2) years old.
Question: Since I'm still learning the ropes, could this be an accident that couples an aircraft being operated too close to its OEM load limits in HDA conditions?
This aircraft made more than one stop at low pressure altitude airports before initiating its final leg to its destination and entering the airspace of an airport sitting at nearly 4,500 ft pressure in Montana. We don't know whether or not he picked up passengers and thus more weight [including baggage] along the way en route to Montana.
I've heard that density altitude is something to really pay close attention to at all time but especially under two limit conditions: 1) When the aircraft is being operated at or near its MTOW, and 2) When the aircraft is being operated at an HDA airport.
So, I would guess that the third logical extension of that would be when you combine BOTH of those limit conditions at the same time. Again, there were no high temperatures involved, but it is my understanding that heat is one of the biggest HDA factors, not the only one.
I'm trying to learn here and make no judgments about the pilot. I plan to fly with my family as well some day and I would like to be as safe a pilot as I can, so I can related to this accident in a big way regardless of the fact that I don't fly at this particular time with my family.