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N1344S accident description

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Crash location 37.390277°N, 106.617778°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Antonito, CO
37.079179°N, 106.008633°W
39.8 miles away

Tail number N1344S
Accident date 05 Aug 2003
Aircraft type Cessna 182P
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On August 5, 2003, at approximately 1345 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 182P, N1344S, was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain 27 miles west-northwest of Antonito, Colorado. The private pilot, the sole person on board the airplane, was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. The flight was one leg of a cross-country flight that originated at Las Animas, Colorado, and was en route to Fremont, California.

Several witnesses observed a high-wing, single-engine airplane flying at low altitude in the vicinity of the accident site, at approximately 1200. The airplane was traveling north through the canyon. One witness said he could definitely see the airplane was flying lower than the mountains on the far side of the canyon.

At approximately 1345, a U. S. Forest Service fire team received a report of bluish-colored smoke "near Elwood cabin." The fire team arrived at the accident site at 1539 and confirmed that the smoke was from an airplane accident.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with single-engine land airplane rating, dated March 24, 1997.

According to insurance company records, the pilot reported having 470 total flying hours with 230 hours in make and model, as of June 6, 2003.

The pilot held a 3rd class medical certificate dated April 26, 2002, and stated in the limitations section that the "Holder must wear corrective lenses."


The airplane, serial number 18264987, was manufactured in 1976 and owned by Limited Liability Corporation, Fremont, California. The airplane was used for business and pleasure.

According to the aircraft logbook, the airplane underwent an annual inspection on April 9, 2003. The total airframe time recorded at the annual inspection was 2,286.0 hours. The last entry in the airframe logbook was on July 4, 2003. At that time, the airplane had 2,342.2 total hours. The airplane's tachometer and Hobbs meter were destroyed in the accident.


At 1152, the aviation routine weather report at Alamosa, Colorado, 38 miles east-northeast of the accident site, was clear skies, 10 miles visibility, temperature 66 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point 52 degrees F, winds 360 degrees at 5 knots, and altimeter 30.28.


The National Transportation Safety Board's on scene investigation began on August 6, 2003, at 1400.

The accident site was located on a treed mountainside in the Rio Grande National Forest at coordinates 37 degrees, 23.41 minutes north latitude, and 106 degrees, 37.06 minutes west longitude. The accident site was on a 65-degree slope at an elevation of approximately 11,450 feet msl.

The accident site began with a severed fir tree preceding the main wreckage by approximately 300 feet. The fir tree was broken approximately 60 feet up from the base of the tree. The top of the tree was located approximately 5 feet west-southwest of the tree base and laid along a 240-degree magnetic heading.

The portion of the accident site containing the airplane wreckage began with two severed trees located on the east edge of the site. The trees were broken approximately 25 feet up from the bases. The tops of the trees were located near their bases and lay along an approximate heading of 240 degrees.

Along the ground, in the area between the first severed fir tree and the two severed trees at the east edge of the main wreckage area, were numerous small paint chips. The chips were gloss white-colored on one side and zinc oxide coated on the other.

Approximately 20 feet west of the two broken trees was the outboard 10 feet of the airplane's left wing. The leading edge of the wing at the fracture showed a 13-inch wide c-shaped dent. Pieces of tree bark were embedded in the dent. The wing was broken aft longitudinally. The left wing tank was broken open, fragmented, melted, and consumed. The smell of aviation fuel was prevalent. The left aileron was broken at mid-span. The outboard section of the left aileron was bent over and inboard, and was twisted aft. The outboard hinge was broken out. The aileron cable was broken at the wing fracture and its strands were unraveled.

Approximately 10 feet west of the left outboard wing section was the left wing strut. The strut was broken out at the fuselage mounting bolt and the wing attach bolt.

Approximately 35 feet from the left outboard wing, on a magnetic heading of 244 degrees was a ground impact scar. The scar was approximately 5 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 14 inches at its deepest point near the start of the scar. The ground impact scar ran along a 230-degree magnetic heading. A portion of the airplane glareshield was located in the scar. It was crushed aft, charred, and melted.

Approximately 45 feet southwest of the left outboard wing was the airplane's propeller. The propeller was broken torsionally at the flange mounting bolts. The aft side of the propeller hub showed rotational scoring. The propeller blades showed torsional bending and chordwise scratches. The propeller spinner was crushed aft and twisted counter-clockwise. The area down slope from the propeller showed numerous wood fragments from tree trunks and branches. The wood pieces showed 40 to 45 degree angled cuts at the ends.

Approximately 5 feet aft of the propeller was the tip of the airplane's pitot tube. The ram air hole at the end of tube had wood embedded in it. Approximately 15 feet down slope of the propeller was the airplane's muffler.

Approximately 15 feet down slope from the ground impact scar was the airplane main wreckage. The main wreckage consisted of the engine and the remains of the airplane's cabin, fuselage, right wing, main landing gear, nose gear, inboard left wing, and empennage.

The engine was charred and melted. It rested inverted against the base of a fir tree. The engine accessories and oil sump were broken aft, melted and consumed by fire. The upper engine cowling was broken aft, crushed, charred, melted and consumed fire. The lower engine cowling was consumed by fire. The nose gear rested beneath the engine. It was broken aft, charred and melted. The nose tire was consumed by fire.

The cabin section, including the instrument panel, control yokes, seats, right cabin door, interior walls, and carpet were broken aft, charred and consumed by fire. The main landing gear were broken out, charred, and melted. The main gear tires were consumed by fire.

The inboard left wing section was melted and consumed by fire. The right wing, including the strut, flap, and aileron, was consumed by fire.

The aft fuselage, baggage compartment, and empennage were consumed by fire.

Flight control continuity was confirmed to the left and right ailerons, elevator, and rudder.

Approximately 10 feet west of the main wreckage was a debris area. The area was approximately 8 feet in diameter. The area contained charts, a global positioning system receiver faceplate, personal effects, and fragmented pieces of clear Plexiglas.

An examination of the airplane's engine and remaining systems components revealed no preimpact anomalies.


The El Paso County Coroner conducted a post-mortem medical examination of the pilot at Colorado Springs, Colorado, on August 7, 2003.

FAA toxicology testing of specimens from the pilot revealed the following volatile concentrations:

>> 0.074 (ug/ml, ug/g) AMPHETAMINE detected in Kidney >> 0.092 (ug/ml, ug/g) AMPHETAMINE detected in Liver >> CITALOPHAN detected in Kidney >> CITALOPHAN detected in Liver >> DI-N-DESMETHYLCITALOPHAN detected in Kidney >> DI-N-DESMETHYLCITALOPHAN detected in Liver >> N-DESMETHYLCITALOPHAN detected in Kidney >> N-DESMETHYLCITALOPHAN detected in Liver

CITALOPHAN is a prescription antidepressant, often known by the trade name Celexa. DI-N-DESMETHYLCITALOPHAN and N-DESMETHYLCITALOPHAN are metabolites of CITALOPHAN. AMPHETAMINE is a prescription stimulant used in the treatment of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. It has a high potential for abuse and dependence.

FAA aeromedical records on the pilot showed no indications the pilot was being treated for depression or any other disorder.


A burned area of trees, brush, and soil extended across the mountainside from west to east for approximately 75 feet. The burned area extended from the main impact scar down the mountainside for approximately 180 feet. The burned area contained most of the airplane's wreckage.


Parties to the investigation were the FAA Flight Standards District Office, Denver, Colorado, Cessna Aircraft, and Teledyne Continental Motors.

The airplane wreckage was returned and released to the insurance company on October 9, 2003.

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.