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N6206K accident description

New Mexico map... New Mexico list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Deming, NM
32.268698°N, 107.758640°W
Tail number N6206K
Accident date 20 Oct 1997
Aircraft type Cessna 150M
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On October 20, 1997, approximately 1220 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 150M, N6206K, was destroyed during a forced landing near Deming, New Mexico. The airline transport rated pilot, the sole occupant in the airplane, was fatally injured. The airplane was being operated by the pilot under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country personal flight which originated from Deming, New Mexico, approximately 15 minutes before the accident. No flight plan had been filed, but witnesses reported that the pilot was planning to fly to Eloy, Arizona; Blythe, California, with a final destination of Pomona, California.

On the morning of the accident, the pilot went to a friend's private airstrip, located approximately 15 nm east of Deming, to retrieve his airplane. His friend reported that they discovered mud doppers, a type of wasp, had filled the pitot-static and fuel tank vent tubes with mud nests. The friend stated that they cleaned the tubes out with pipe cleaners and tested the airspeed indicator by blowing into it. The friend further stated that he did not observe the pilot do any additional preflight, to include draining the airplane's fuel system sumps or fuel strainer.

The pilot's friend reported that when the pilot attempted to start the airplane, he discovered that the battery was dead. The pilot borrowed his friend's portable transceiver and GPS units. After hand-propping and starting the airplane, the pilot departed for Deming. Witnesses at the Deming Airport reported that after the pilot landed, a battery charger was attached to the airplane's battery and the fuel tanks were topped off with 5.3 gallons of Chevron 100LL aviation gasoline.

The pilot's friend followed him to Deming in his own airplane and arrived to help the pilot remove the battery charger. They determined that the battery was still "dead," and the friend again held the airplane's brakes while the pilot hand-propped it to start the engine. As the airplane taxied out, a witness observed that the airplane's flashing beacon was not operating.

According to witnesses, the pilot departed the Deming Airport at approximately 1205 and was last observed flying west at an estimated altitude of 400 to 500 feet agl. When he did not arrive at his first refueling point, friends notified authorities and a search was commenced. A pipeline patrol airplane spotted the missing airplane at 0745 the following day approximately 15 nm west of Deming in flat, sandy, vegetated terrain.


The pilot was born on April 15, 1942. He was an airline transport rated pilot, flight instructor, and an A&P mechanic with Inspection Authorization. According to FAA medical records, he had accrued over 13,000 hours of flight experience.


The airplane was a high-wing, fixed gear, single engine airplane which had been manufactured in 1975. A witness reported that the airplane had been flown from California to Deming during the summer of 1995. It was stored in a hangar at Deming Aviation, which was leased by the pilot. The pilot removed the airplane's engine during this time period, overhauled it, and reinstalled it approximately 9 months prior to the accident. A witness stated that to the best of his knowledge, since its arrival in Deming, the airplane had been flown once, for approximately 2 hours. Documentation was not located to verify when or if the airplane had been flown since the summer of 1995.

Approximately 1 to 2 months before the accident, the pilot told the witness that he was going to "drain the fuel tanks," but the witness did not see him do it. Sometime later, the witness was told that "the tanks are bone dry, and would he fill them." The witness stated that he put 14 to 15 gallons of fuel in the airplane (the airplane has a fuel capacity of 26 gallons of which 22.5 gallons is usable). After the airplane was fueled, the pilot flew it 15 nm east of Deming to a friend's private airfield for storage. The airplane was tied down outdoors and was not flown again until the morning of the accident. The friend reported that it had rained during the time that the airplane was tied down at his airfield.


Deming, New Mexico, weather at 1254 MDT reported wind from 260 degrees at 12 knots gusting to 20, visibility 60 miles, few clouds at 7,000 feet, 12,000 scattered, temperature 75 degrees F., dew point 0 degrees F., altimeter 30.12 inches of mercury.


In the summer of 1995, the pilot had negotiated a rental contract with the city of Deming for the physical facilities at the airport to operate a "full service FBO." Sometime during the month of May, 1997, the City Administrator of Deming was at the airport and noticed one of the pilot's fuel trucks parked next to a 100LL 10,000 gallon fuel tank. As he approached the unattended truck, he heard a "buzzing" noised and he notice a small tube/hose running the 10,000 gallon fuel tank to the truck. Closer examination revealed a small 12 volt pump which was transferring fuel from the 10,000 gallon tank to the truck. City officials confronted the pilot about this practice and he reported the following: the pilot stated that the 10,000 gallon tank contains 400 gallons of unusable/sump fuel which can not be pumped out by the fuel tank's pump. Because he was having some difficulties with fuel deliveries, he was bypassing the tank's sump system to have sufficient fuel for the FBO.


The airplane came to rest in soft, sandy level terrain which was covered by approximately 50% brush 2 to 5 feet in height. The GPS readings at the site were North 32 degrees 16.78', West 108 degrees 00.60'. Three initial ground scars (consistent with the dimensions of the airplane's landing gear) on a heading of 260 degrees, proceeded for approximately 160 feet to the main wreckage. The fuselage was found upside down facing 050 degrees; the right wing had separated from the fuselage and lay approximately 10 feet to the northeast of the main fuselage; the empennage was found upright, oriented 134 degrees, and structurally separated from the fuselage; the engine was found northwest approximately 30 feet from the main wreckage (see attached wreckage diagram).

All structural components were accounted for, and flight control continuity was established within the limits of structural integrity. The flap actuator in the right wing was found retracted. The elevator trim tab was in neutral position. The ignition key was found in the "both" position, the throttle was full forward, the mixture was 1 inch aft, and the carburetor heat was 75% out. The engine displayed continuity of the pistons and accessory drives, "thumb" compression was obtained on all cylinders except the #2 cylinder (later it to passed the compression test - see attached documents), and the magnetos sparked when rotated by hand. The propeller blades were pushed aft with longitudinal striations, one blade demonstrated "S" bending along the outer 1/2 of its span, and the propeller's spinner was crushed directly aft.

The fuel selector was found in the on position. The gascolator was found with a silvery gray fluid in it and the right hand fuel tank was found with approximately 1/4 cup of fluid that appeared to be water (see attached documents).


Autopsy and toxicological tests were ordered and performed. The autopsy was performed at the University of New Mexico's school of medicine's Office of the Medical Investigator. Toxicology test results were negative.


The airplane's electrical power is supplied by a 14-volt, engine-driven alternator which is converted to direct-current. According to the airplane's manufacturer, the alternator's magnetic field requires at least 3 volts of current before it can generate electrical power and therefore will not produce any current when attached to a dead battery (see attached documentation). Subsequently, all electrical systems in the airplane will not operate, including the flaps.


The airplane was released to the owner's representative, Tony Jayne, an employee of the Deming Airport FBO, on October 23, 1997. No parts or logbooks were retained.

NTSB Probable Cause

The loss of engine power due to fuel contamination. Contributing was unsuitable terrain consisting of high vegetation and sand.

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