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N732ER accident description

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Crash location 39.583330°N, 108.833330°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 Mack, CO
39.223869°N, 108.865105°W
24.9 miles away
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Tail number N732ER
Accident date 08 May 2000
Aircraft type Cessna 210L
Additional details: Tan w/Green Trim

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On May 8, 2000, at 1250 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 210L airplane, N732ER, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while in cruise flight near Mack, Colorado. The commercial pilot, who was the registered owner of the airplane, and his passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight. The cross-country flight originated from the Grand Junction Airport, Grand Junction, Colorado, approximately 18 minutes prior to the accident, and was destined for Vernal, Utah.

The accident airplane was part of a 7-airplane caravan trip throughout the southwest. The accident airplane departed Arlington, Texas, on May 7, 2000, and flew to San Angelo, Texas, and then to Grand Junction, where the pilot topped-off the fuel tanks for the following day's flight to Vernal (located 105 miles north, northwest of Grand Junction). The remaining 6 airplanes flew to Vernal, Utah, on the 7th and were awaiting the accident airplane's arrival on the 8th for their next leg to Moab, Utah.

On the morning of May 8, 2000, the pilot and his passenger arrived at the Grand Junction Airport where they checked the weather (on 3 separate occasions), and according to line personnel at the fixed base operator, waited (approximately 3 hours) for the "weather to clear." One of the line personnel stated that the weather was "stormy and windy." The pilot informed them that he was going to fly over Douglas Pass to Vernal. The line personnel stated that the mountain tops were obscured by clouds in that area, and they told the pilot that he might be able to go around the weather by flying to Green River, Utah, where "the weather was clearer." They said that the pilot stated that, "if the weather was too bad, he would head west or return to the airport." The line personnel added that the pilot stated that he was not going to file an instrument flight rules flight plan because he could not obtain icing levels, so he filed a VFR flight plan instead.

According to air traffic control information, the pilot contacted Denver departure at 1241, and was given the altimeter setting of 29.92 inches of mercury. At 1249, Denver departure lost radar contact with the airplane and could not establish radio contact with the pilot. A search was initiated, and the airplane was located at 1830.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot was issued a commercial certificate with airplane single-engine, airplane multi-engine, and instrument airplane ratings on July 30, 1970. The pilot was issued an airplane single-engine flight instructor certificate on July 27, 1999. Review of the pilot's logbooks revealed that he had accumulated approximately 4,083 flight hours, of which 2,640 hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane. According to the logbook, the pilot flew 334 hours in actual instrument conditions, and 264 hours in simulated instrument conditions. On May 13, 1999, the pilot completed his last biennial flight review in the accident airplane, and logged the required currency requirements for instrument flight rules operations. The pilot was issued a third class medical certificate on September 01, 1999, with the following limitations, "must wear corrective lenses," and "not valid for any class after September 30, 2000."

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The 1976-model airplane was powered by a Teledyne Continental IO-520-L engine (serial number 294946-R) and a McCauley D3A32C88-M propeller (serial number 786713). It was equipped for operations in instrument meteorological conditions. The airplane underwent its last annual inspection on March 1, 2000, at an aircraft total time of 3,576.1 hours. The last altimeter system, altitude reporting equipment, and transponder tests and inspections were conducted on January 28, 1999. On December 18, 1998, at an aircraft total time of 3,491.2 hours, the engine was factory rebuilt and zero timed. On May 31, 1999, at an engine time of 26.1 hours, and aircraft time of 3,516.1 hours, the engine was sent to the manufacturer to comply with Airworthiness Directive 99-09-17. At that time, the "crankshaft assembly, all main bearings, all connecting rod bearings and collar, four connecting rods, four rocker arms, four pushrods and housings, one balance tube bracket, four push rod springs and new gaskets and seal" were replaced. March 1, 2000, was the last time the engine underwent a 100-hour inspection at an engine total time of 85.3 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The pilot called the Denver Flight Service Station (FSS) on three separate occasions on the morning of the accident. Review of the first recorded weather briefing revealed that the pilot requested weather information for a VFR flight from Grand Junction to Vernal, and was given Airmet information regarding turbulence, freezing levels, and mountain obscuration. The FSS weather briefer stated that VFR was not recommended for that route of flight.

During the second recorded weather briefing the pilot stated that he could fly instrument flight rules to Vernal, but wanted to check the weather. The FSS weather briefer asked the pilot if he had received a weather briefing that morning, to which the pilot answered in the affirmative. The FSS weather briefer then asked if the pilot received Airmets for the area, to which the pilot answered in the negative. The FSS weather briefer then proceeded to give the pilot the applicable Convective Sigmets and Airmets for the pilot's route of flight. The pilot asked what the freezing level was and the FSS weather briefer stated that the icing levels were forecasted to start between 7,000 and 10,000 feet. The pilot then asked the FSS weather briefer what the Minimum Enroute Altitude (MEA) was for that route and asked if it was 10,800 feet. He then stated that he was "trying to stay out of icing conditions and the lower I fly the better." The FSS weather briefer stated that the MEA for V-391 (the victor airway between the Grand Junction VOR and the Vernal VOR) was 11,800 feet. (The MEA for V-391 was in fact 10,800 feet at the time of the accident.) The FSS weather briefer completed the telephone conversation with the pilot by giving him the forecasts for Grand Junction and Vernal.

During the third recorded telephone weather briefing, the pilot stated that he wanted to file a VFR flight plan from Grand Junction to Vernal along V-391, and the "cruise altitude will be VFR." The pilot then asked if the precipitation in the area was moving to the east, to which the FSS weather briefer indicated that it was, and that he would be able to deviate to the west to avoid it. The pilot asked again about the icing levels, to which the FSS weather briefer answered that he did not have any pilot reports concerning the icing levels.

Review of the weather data in the accident area at 1200, revealed a weak center of low pressure over southwestern Montana with an associated trough of low pressure curving southward over western Wyoming into western Colorado. Weather radar data for the accident area was reviewed and no echoes were depicted in the vicinity of the accident site at the time of the accident. Visible satellite imagery for 1245 and 1300 depicted the leading edge of a distinct line of clouds oriented southwest-northeast over the accident site location. Examination of the Wind Aloft Forecasts over Grand Junction revealed that the wind at 9,000 feet msl was from 280 degrees at 15 knots.

At 1256, the weather observation facility at Grand Junction (field elevation 4,858 feet msl) reported the wind from 290 degrees at 12 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clouds broken at 2,400 feet agl, overcast clouds at 2,800 feet agl, temperature 52 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and altimeter setting of 29.92 inches of mercury.

At 1245, the weather observation facility at Vernal (field elevation 5,274 feet msl) reported the wind from 120 degrees at 2 knots; visibility 30 statute miles; clouds scattered at 2,000 feet agl, broken clouds at 6,000 feet agl, and overcast clouds at 9,000 feet agl; temperature 48 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 43 degrees Fahrenheit, and altimeter setting of 29.96 inches of mercury.

Using a standard lapse rate, the NTSB IIC calculated the freezing level at the accident site to be approximately 10,000 feet msl.

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL AND RADAR DATA

Radar data, initiating at 1231:00, depicted the accident airplane climbing from 5,500 feet msl and making a slow climb to the north. At 1245:18, the airplane's radar return indicated that it was at 8,100 feet msl and a turn to the west had been initiated. From 1245:18, until 1246:08, the airplane continued climbing to a maximum altitude of 8,700 feet msl, and was heading northwest before radar contact was lost. The radar altitude data was overlaid on topographical data. The terrain elevation under the airplane's flight path increased to 8,786 feet msl, which met and exceeded the airplane's last altitude radar return of 8,600 feet msl.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane was located 50 feet below the crest of a ridge, adjacent to Baxter Pass. The Baxter Pass elevation is 8,786 feet and is located approximately 8 miles west of Douglas Pass, and approximately 6 miles east of V-391. The airplane wreckage energy path was along a 297 magnetic heading with the main wreckage coming to rest on a 47 degree mountain slope adjacent to a pine tree. A 12-inch diameter pine tree, located 35 feet east of the main wreckage was broken. A section of the broken tree trunk displayed a near vertical cut with gray paint transfer similar to the paint color on the propeller. The airplane came to rest on its right side.

The outboard 6 feet of the right wing was separated and laying adjacent to the inboard right wing. The outboard 3 feet of the right horizontal stabilizer was separated and was found lying adjacent to the 12-inch diameter tree. The elevator trim tab was separated from the elevator and was lying between the tree and the main wreckage. Both wing tips were separated from their respective wings. The right wing tip was found up-slope from the tree about 15 feet. The left wing tip was found down-slope from the main wreckage about 20 feet. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to all flight control surfaces with the exception of the right aileron, which remained attached to the separated outboard wing section. The landing gear and flaps were found in the retracted position. The cockpit area was compromised and the instrument panel was dislocated upward. The remainder of the airplane was intact; however the wing spar carry through structure was separated from the spar and remained attached to the fuselage with sheet metal and control cables.

The 3-bladed propeller hub remained attached to the engine crankshaft; however, one of the blades was separated from the fractured section of the propeller hub. The propeller blade was located 30 feet west and up-slope of the main wreckage.

PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed at the Mesa County Coroner's Office in Grand Junction, Colorado. According to the pathologist, who performed the autopsy, the pilot died as a result of "multiple injuries." Toxicological tests for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and drugs were negative.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released to the owner's representative.

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