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N2424G accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Pagosa Springs, CO
37.269450°N, 107.009762°W
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Tail number N2424G
Accident date 02 May 1999
Aircraft type Cessna 182B
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On May 2, 1999, approximately 1340 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 182B, N2424G, registered to and operated by the pilot, was destroyed when it collided with terrain while maneuvering 10 miles northeast of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The instrument rated commercial pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. A VFR flight plan had been filed for the personal cross-country flight being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated from Front Range Airport, Watkins, Colorado, at 1212, and was en route to Stevens Field, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the accident area.

According to family members, the pilot and his wife had planned a vacation to visit relatives in Pagosa Springs and Farmington, New Mexico. They were planning a stop in Pagosa Springs for several hours to visit their son and the pilot's brother, and were then going to continue on to Farmington to visit their daughter and her family.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot of N2424G obtained four weather briefings by accessing the Direct User Access System (DUAT). At 0845 and 0855, the pilot requested information for a flight from Denver to Farmington, New Mexico. According to DUAT records, the "low altitude weather brief" the pilot received included AIRMETs (airman's meteorological information) calling for IFR conditions, mountain obscuration, turbulence and icing conditions. The mountains were forecast to be occasionally obscured in clouds, with occasional moderate rime or mixed icing in clouds and precipitation between 10,000 to 18,000 feet (FL180). The ceilings were forecast to be broken to overcast clouds at 8,000 to 10,000 feet, with tops to 20,000 in the mountains to the west. The forecast was for widely scattered rain showers, low ceilings and visibility, with a chance of overcast ceilings between 1,000 to 2,000 and visibility 3 to 5 statue miles. According to the synopsis, an upper level low pressure system was over eastern Colorado moving northeastward.

Records indicate that at 0945 and 0948, the pilot again accessed DUAT and requested flight planning information between Denver and Pagosa Springs. At 1014, the pilot of N2424G used DUAT to file a VFR flight plan from Front Range Airport (FTG) to Pagosa Springs' Stevens Field (2V1), with a cruising altitude of 12,500 feet and an estimated time en route of 1 hour 25 minutes.

After departing Front Range Airport, the pilot of N2424G contacted the Denver Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) at 1221 via the radio and requested that his flight plan be activated as of 1215. The briefer asked the pilot of N2424G, "Did you get the AIRMETs on mountain obscurement, turbulence and icing for that route?" The pilot of N2424G replied, "That's affirmative. We got all the information just a little bit ago."

According to a witness who was skiing in the area where the accident occurred (known as avalanche area 160) near the time of the accident, he heard an airplane overhead "low and loud." The pilot's brother, who lives in Pagosa Springs, was awaiting the arrival of his brother and sister-in-law. At approximately 1230, he observed the deteriorating weather in Pagosa Springs, and called the Front Range Airport. His intention was to notify his brother and his wife of the degenerating weather conditions, and to advise them to delay their flight. He was told that N2424G had already departed, and that he was 15 minutes too late.

At 1640 on the day of the accident, N2424G became the subject of an ALNOT (alert notice) after being reported overdue by family members when it failed to arrive at its destination of Pagosa Springs at their proposed arrival time of 1325. A search was initiated, and an ELT signal was detected; however, the search was initially suspended due to deteriorating weather conditions. The aircraft was located by the Mineral County Sheriff at approximately 1913 on the evening of May 4.

CREW INFORMATION

The pilot, Donald Eugene Ecker, age 66, was born on August 14, 1932. He held Commercial Pilot Certificate No. 001419303, dated December 15, 1991, with airplane single/multiengine land and instrument ratings. He possessed a third class airman medical certificate, dated August 1, 1998, with the limitation, "Must wear lenses for distant and possess glasses for near vision." The pilot's medical certificate was issued as a special issuance restriction under FAR Part 67.19 due to previous heart disease. At the time of the accident, the pilot had accumulated a total of 2,520 hours, and 14 hours within the past 90 days.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The aircraft, N2424G, was manufactured by the Cessna Aircraft Company in 1958. It was equipped with a Continental O-470-L reciprocating engine, rated at 230 horsepower, a McCauley, 3-bladed, all-metal, constant speed propeller, and fixed landing gear. According to the aircraft's maintenance records, the last annual inspections on the engine and airframe were accomplished on January 4, 1999, at a tachometer time of 1964.0 hours. The engine and airframe had accrued 4115.0 hours, and the engine had accumulated 787.0 hours since major overhaul. At the time of the last inspection, the propeller had accrued 3655.0 total hours and 2429.0 hours since major overhaul. At the time of the accident, the aircraft had accumulated 11 hours since the last inspection.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1352, weather conditions at Alamosa, Colorado, located 48 miles to the east of the accident site, were scattered clouds at 6,000 feet, visibility 10 miles, temperature 48 degrees F. (9 degrees C.), dew point 28 degrees F. (-2 degrees C.), calm winds, and an altimeter setting of 29.87 inches of mercury. Using Alamosa's temperature and barometric pressure, density altitude at the time of the accident was calculated to be 12,920 feet.

Although there is no surface weather observation station at Pagosa Springs or the surrounding area, satellite data provided by McIDAS (Man computer Interactive Data Access System) indicated that extensive cloud cover was present in the area near the time of the accident. According to several witnesses who were driving through the pass close to the time of the accident, they were unable to view the peaks of the pass due to low-level clouds. The pilot's brother, a resident of Pagosa Springs, stated that the mountain tops along the west side of Wolf Creek Pass were obscured.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The on-scene investigation indicated that the aircraft impacted the east side of Pagosa Peak (elevation 12,369 feet) at the 11,000 foot level along a 37 degree inclining slope two nautical miles west of Wolf Creek Pass (N 37 degrees 29.257 minutes, W 106 degrees 50.707 minutes). Witness marks provided evidence that the airplane impacted terrain on a heading of 278 degrees, with approximately 5 degrees pitch up and 10 degrees left bank. Several feet of snow were present at the time of the accident, and an additional foot of snow fell subsequent to the mishap.

The fuselage was located directly between two large trees, and both wings had partially separated from the aircraft during the impact sequence. The instrument panel separated from the main section of the aircraft and was found approximately 5 feet forward of the fuselage. The engine was located 15 feet in front of the fuselage. All major components of the aircraft were accounted for, with the exception of the propeller, which was later found when the aircraft was recovered. Control continuity was unable to be established due to the partial separation of the wings from the aircraft during the impact sequence. There was no evidence of pre or postimpact fire.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy (99A-157) on the pilot was performed by David L. Bowerman, M.D. with the El Paso County Coroner's Office on May 6, 1999. A toxicological protocol (9900086001) was performed on the pilot by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. No carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol or drugs were detected in the blood.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

In addition to the Federal Aviation Administration, parties to the investigation were the Cessna Aircraft Company and Teledyne Continental Motors.

On July 22, 1999, the aircraft was released a representative of the pilot's insurance company. No parts were retained.

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