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N320AZ accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Lake Heron, NM
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Tail number N320AZ
Accident date 24 Apr 2011
Aircraft type Cessna 320
Additional details: None
No position found

NTSB Factual Report

On April 24, 2011, about 1030 mountain daylight time a Cessna 320F airplane, N320AZ, impacted Heron Lake, near Los Ojos, New Mexico, after departing from cruise flight. The pilot, sole occupant, received fatal injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged in the collision and the wreckage submerged in deep water. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operating on a flight plan. The flight originated from Prescott, Arizona, about 0730 mountain daylight time.

A witness who was on the water at the time, reported that he heard the engine sound of an airplane flying low overhead. He stated that the engine noise suddenly went silent and he saw a large splash of water.

At the time of the accident, weather reported in the area was stormy with rain and thunderstorms.

The airplane wreckage was not recovered from the water; an examination of the engines and airframe was not possible. However, pieces that were recovered indicated the airplane fragmented on impact. The airplane’s maintenance records were not available for this investigation.

The severity of the water accident meant that the pilot’s identity was determined by DNA and a toxicology test was not performed. A review of records on file with the Federal Aviation Administration revealed the pilot held a private pilot certificate, with single and multi-engine land, airplane ratings. The pilot did not possess an instrument rating. Additionally, the records revealed that he held a third class medical certificate dated December 30, 2009. During the investigation, the pilot’s logbook was not recovered, and as a result his time in make and model, as well as a breakdown of pilot times were not determined.

Numerous packages, reportedly illegal narcotics, surfaced from the wreckage and were seized by the authorities.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot’s controlled flight into terrain while conducting a flight at low altitude in instrument meteorological conditions.

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