My dads reference to that plane was not to fly that airplane at those altitudes. The plane was a 1953 Piper Tri-Pacer (before the Piper Cherokee). It was a 135hp engine, 4 seater that was like driving a Ford Festiva up the hills on I-70. The plane was slow, had a fixed gear and sure as hell did not have the juice to climb out of trouble.
Its very possible they got into some bumps or a wind shear that got them into trouble. My dad said they had plenty of seat time, but its very possible that they made some mistakes, just like being on the river. [/i]