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N9457M accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Buena Vista, CO
38.842218°N, 106.131129°W

Tail number N9457M
Accident date 26 May 2000
Aircraft type Cessna T210K
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On May 26, 2000, at approximately 1515 mountain daylight time, a Cessna T210K, N9457M, was destroyed when it impacted terrain in Cottonwood Pass, near Buena Vista, Colorado. The non-instrument rated private pilot and his two passengers were fatally injured. The pilot was operating the airplane under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site at the time of the accident. The cross-country personal flight originated from Jefferson County Airport, approximately 55 minutes before the accident. A VFR flight plan had been filed.

The pilot called Denver Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) on five separate occasions to get weather information and to file a VFR flight plan. On four of the calls, starting at 1030 on the day of the accident, the FAA briefer told the pilot of mountain obscuration and that VFR flight through central Colorado was not recommended. At 1107, the pilot filed a VFR flight plan from Jefferson County Airport, Broomfield, Colorado, direct to Halls Crossing, Utah, at 14,500 feet. He said that the estimated time en route was 2.5 hours, and that he had 5 hours of fuel onboard.

At 1353, the pilot again talked with an FAA briefer for a weather update. During that conversation, the pilot indicated that he would fly south to Pueblo, over La Veta Pass to Alamosa, and then west to Lake Powell. When the pilot called Denver AFSS, to open his flight plan at 1420, the controller again informed him of turbulence and mountain obscuration through central Colorado, and that VFR flight was not recommended.

At approximately 1500, a witness observed an airplane flying up Cottonwood Pass (N38 degrees, 48.29'; W106 degrees, 22.35'; elevation 10,640 feet) at approximately 300 to 400 feet above the ground on an estimated 240 degree heading. He had just driven over the pass and reported that visibility, at the top of the pass, was only 3 to 5 car-lengths. The witness said he observed the airplane only for a few seconds due to fog and snow showers.

When the pilot did not close his flight plan, the FAA reported the airplane missing at approximately 1700 on May 26. Search and rescue personnel located the wreckage at approximately 0900 on May 27.


According to FAA records, the pilot reported on his last FAA medical application, dated June 23, 1998, that he had 2,000 hours of flight experience with 40 hours during the last 6 months. According to the pilot's flight logbook and airplane maintenance records, the pilot had an estimated 2,417 hours of flight experience at the time of the accident. The pilot indicated in his flight logbook that he started flying in 1960, and he received his private pilot certificate in 1964.

The pilot's flight logbook indicated that he successfully completed his last FAA required flight review on February 16, 2000.


The airplane was a single engine, propeller-driven, six seat airplane, which was manufactured by Cessna Aircraft Company, in 1970. It was powered by a Continental TSIO-520-H, six cylinder, reciprocating, horizontally opposed, direct drive, air cooled, fuel injected, turbo-charged engine, which had a maximum takeoff rating of 285 horsepower at sea level. At the last annual inspection on February 24, 2000, the documented airframe total time was 2,427 hours, and the engine had 441 hours since major overhaul.

The airplane was certificated for a maximum gross weight of 3,800 pounds. It had a service ceiling of 28,500 feet; it was equipped with an internal personal oxygen system.


At 1353, the weather conditions at the Buena Vista Municipal Airport (elevation 7,945 feet), 080 degrees 10 nautical miles (nm) from the accident site, were as follows: wind 270 degrees at 16 knots gusting to 28 knots; visibility 20 statute miles; cloud condition 8,000 feet scattered 16,000 feet broken; temperature 68 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 34 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter setting 29.90 inches. They further reported scattered light rain showers in the vicinity of the airport, and standing lenticular clouds over the mountains. The density altitude was 10,475 feet.


The airplane was found on a mountain side (N38 degrees, 47.28 minutes; W106 degrees, 24.17 minutes; elevation 11,490 feet) in a box canyon on the north side of Jones Mountain in the Collegiate Mountain range. The terrain was an up slope and heavily forested. A red left wing navigation light was found at the beginning of a 30 foot long ground scar that led to several damaged trees (the debris path had a 140 degree orientation). Three trees were slashed in half with black paint transfers on their trunks. Another tree, approximately 2 feet in diameter, had its bark removed for an estimated 6 feet of vertical height. On the right side of this witness mark, two seat rails were found impaled into the tree. The aft portion of the cabin, the aft fuselage, and the empennage were found on the right side of the tree. The remaining forward portion of the airplane was found on the left side of the tree. The forward cabin area and instrument panel were fragmented and burned by fire.

All of the airplane's major components were accounted for at the accident site. The flight control surfaces were all identified, but control cable continuity could not be established due to impact damage. The flap actuator in the right wing indicated that the wing flaps were up. The landing gear was in the up position.

The engine was found separated from the airframe and in an inverted orientation; it was fire damaged. Its connecting cables, hoses, and wires were stretched, but still attached. The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft flange. It was rotated and "thumb compression" was obtained on all cylinders. Both magnetos were burned; the spark plugs appeared heat damaged but with little indication of wear. The propeller blades were damaged as follows: A. the blade evidenced a slight "S" wave, its tip was bent back about 20 degrees; B. the blade was bowed forward about 15 degrees; and C. the blade was bent in a series of "S" waves, and paint abrasion was observed.

No preimpact engine or airframe anomalies, which might have affected the airplane's performance, were identified.


The St. Mary-Corwin Regional Medical Center, Pueblo, Colorado, performed an autopsy on the pilot on May 28, 2000.

The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI's report (#200000119001), carbon monoxide and cyanide tests were not performed. No volatiles were detected in the vitreous. The drugs nordiazepam, the metabolite of the prescription drug diazepam (commonly known by the trade name Valium), and norfluoxetine, the metabolite of the prescription drug fluoxetine (commonly known by the trade name Prozac), were found in both the liver and kidney.

The pilot did not report, on his FAA medical application dated June 23, 1998, that he was taking these prescribed medications. The FAA does not approve these medications for pilots, while they are on flight status.


The airplane, including all components and logbooks, was released to the owner's insurance representative on July 5, 2000.

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