The pilot lived in Yakima, only 20 miles away, and worked part time at the FBO where he rented the Cessna 172. He had earned his private pilot certificate a year earlier. This was his first flight in two months, and he had flown only two hours in the preceding 90 days. In fact, his logbook showed a total of only 79 hours, so it does not appear that he had flown much since he completed his training. But even with his low time and lack of recent experience, landing on a 2,500-foot runway with an unobstructed approach over the water should not be too difficult. However, he was trying to land in the middle of the afternoon. The airport, at an elevation of 2,964 feet, had a density altitude of 5,000 feet, and witnesses reported that the winds were gusting 20 to 30 mph out of the west. His wife, who had driven to the airport and was waiting for him to land, reported that "she was concerned that her husband may have difficulty landing in such conditions."