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N26KP accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Telluride, CO
37.937494°N, 107.812285°W

Tail number N26KP
Accident date 30 Sep 2000
Aircraft type Sukhoi SU-26MX
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On September 30, 2000, at approximately 1405 mountain daylight time, a Sukhoi SU-26MX, N26KP, was destroyed during impact with terrain following a loss of control while maneuvering at the Telluride Regional Airport, Telluride, Colorado. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant in the airplane, was fatally injured. The pilot was operating the airplane under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local aerobatic flight that was originating at the time of the accident. The pilot had not filed a flight plan.

According to the Telluride airport manager, the airplane was scheduled to perform aerobatics, in a local air show, after a flight of T-28s completed several fly-bys. He said that the pilot started his engine "early," and was requesting clearance for departure before the T-28s had finished. The pilot said that he needed to get airborne because his engine was getting hot. The airport manager said that a United Express flight was also requesting a departure. The airport manager instructed the T-28s to land, and he then gave the airplane clearance to takeoff. The airport manager said that the airplane was instructed to fly to a holding area, clear of the airport traffic area. He was then planning to clear the United Express flight for departure.

The airport manager said that the airplane flew level down the runway at 75 to 100 feet, and was generating show smoke. He said that at approximately mid field, the airplane "popped up to near vertical." At approximately 500 feet, the airplane began to tumble, and then to spin until it impacted the terrain.


The pilot received his initial flight training in the military, and served on active duty for 8 years. According to his FAA medical application, dated August 28, 2000, he had accumulated approximately 2,000 hours of flight experience.

Several of the pilot's friends said that the pilot had purchased the airplane with the intention of performing aerobatics on the national air show circuit. They further stated that he had spent a great deal of time modifying the airplane to facilitate achieving that goal.


The airplane was a single engine, propeller-driven aircraft, which was manufactured in 1990 by Sukhoi Aircraft Company, in Russia. It was a single seat aerobatic (plus 12 G's; minus 10 G's) airplane that was powered by a Vendenyev M-14 supercharged, nine cylinder, round-reciprocating, fuel injected engine. The original engine was 360 horsepower, but it had been modified with new pistons (its compression ratio had been changed from 6:1 to 10:1) to produce 525 horsepower. The last annual inspection was performed in Grand Junction, Colorado, on September 18, 2000. The mechanic who performed the last inspection said that at the time of the inspection, the airplane had approximately 520 hours of flight time.

The pilot had a newly certified Zvezda SKS (Russian) ejection seat installed in the aircraft in July 2000. A representative from the Sukhoi Design Bureau said that the seat's ejection sequence would complete in 0.7 seconds. He further stated that ejection seat operated safely within the following capabilities: ground ejection required an aircraft speed of 54 knots; horizontal ejection required an aircraft altitude of 56 feet; vertical down ejection required an aircraft speed of 215 knots, and an altitude of 122 feet.


At 1453, the weather at Montrose Regional Airport, Montrose, Colorado (MTJ elevation 5,759 feet), 350 degrees 32 nautical miles from the accident site, was as follows: wind 350 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; clear of clouds; temperature 77 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 45 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter setting 30.13 inches.

The density altitude at the accident site was computed to be 12,441 feet.


The accident site was on a high mountain plateau (elevation 8,966 feet; N37 degrees, 57.27'; W107 degrees, 54.65'). The airplane was located approximately 50 feet north of the runway, and was longitudinally oriented approximately north. The final moments of flight were recorded on a video camera, and a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector was a witness to the event. The National Transportation Safety Board investigator in charge did not travel to the accident site.

All of the airplane's structural components were accounted for at the accident site. The postimpact fire destroyed the cockpit, instrument panel, and fuselage. One witness reported hearing the engine "running strong" until impact. No preimpact engine or airframe anomalies, which might have affected the airplane's performance, were identified.

A delegation of Russians from Sukhoi, Zvezda, and the Interstate Aviation Committee arrived in Colorado on December 11, 2000. They examined the entire airplane and identified no anomalies. They gave special attention to the recently installed ejection seat system. They determined that the ejection seat safety key had been inserted in its safety lock and turned to the arm position. They further determined that the seat had not been activated and that all the seat's sequencing mechanisms were in their armed positions. The telescoping pilot extraction pole had been deployed during the postimpact fire.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Division of Forensic Pathology, Montrose Memorial Hospital, Montrose, Colorado, for the San Miguel County coroner, on October 2, 2000.

The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI's report (#200000286001), the pilot's blood was tested for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and drugs, with negative results.


The airplane, including all components and logbooks, was released to the owner's insurance representative on August 20, 2001.

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