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N35KR accident description

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Crash location 37.568889°N, 109.483333°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 Blanding, UT
37.624165°N, 109.478177°W
3.8 miles away

Tail number N35KR
Accident date 26 Jul 2003
Aircraft type Mooney M20C
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On July 26, 2003, at 1052 mountain daylight time, N35KR, a Mooney M20C, registered to and operated by the pilot, was destroyed when it impacted terrain during takeoff at Blanding Municipal Airport, Blanding, Utah. The private pilot and his three passengers were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. A VFR flight plan had been filed for the cross-country flight being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight was originating at the time of the accident, and was en route to Englewood, Colorado.

The airplane departed North Las Vegas Airport, Las Vegas, Nevada, and the pilot activated his flight plan at 0804. According to family members, the pilot was flying his three grandchildren home to Englewood so that his granddaughter could celebrate her birthday there. According to data from the on-board GPS (global positioning system), the airplane landed at Blanding at 1014. The pilot used a self-service pump to fill the fuel tanks with 20.1 gallons of 100LL fuel. The airplane departed on runway 17 shortly thereafter.

One person, whose house was near the runway, reported hearing an airplane take off. Shortly thereafter, he heard two "pops" which he said sounded like gunshots. He then saw "a plane down and on fire." An airport employee saw the fire. He drove to the scene and tried to extinguish the fire. He noted the time as being shortly after 1050. Another individual said he "didn't see the plane crash, [but he] saw smoke start, then fire and an explosion." At 1113, fire and rescue personnel arrived and extinguished the fire with foam.


The pilot, age 55, held a private pilot certificate, dated August 24, 2002, with airplane single-engine land and instrument ratings. His third-class medical certificate, dated November 16, 2001, contained the limitation, "Holder shall possess glasses that correct for near vision." According to the pilot's logbook recovered at the accident site, he had logged 279.1 hours. Most of the logbook was fire-damaged. The pilot's last biennial flight review was on June 28, 2003. Complex airplane and high performance airplane endorsements were received on May 5, 2001. According to his application for airplane insurance, dated April 21, 2003, the pilot reported 121 hours had been accrued in the Mooney M20C. He had completed a mountain flying training course, and was certified as a mission pilot with the Civil Air Patrol.


The Mooney Aircraft Corporation manufactured N35KR, a model M20C (s/n 2877), in 1964. It was equipped with a Lycoming O-360-A1-D engine (s/n L7355-36A), rated at 180 horsepower, driving a Hartzell three-blade, all-metal, constant-speed propeller (m/n HC-C3YR-1RF).

According to the maintenance records, the last annual inspection was done on October 10, 2002, at a tachometer reading of 4,511.3 hours. At that time, the engine had accrued 536.3 hours since major overhaul (the overhaul was dated August 1, 1992, at a tachometer time of 4001.0 hours). The propeller, a "top prop" conversion (s/n DY3960A), was installed on the airplane on April 2, 1998 (STC #SA4529NM), at a tachometer time of 4,241.0 hours. The last pitot-static system check and certification of the transponder/encoder was on April 9, 1998, at a tachometer time of 4,243.13 hours.


At 1123, the Blanding METAR (routine aviation meteorological report) was as follows: Wind, 110 degrees at 7 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles (or greater); sky condition, clear; temperature. 31 degrees Celsius; dew point, 8 degrees Celsius; altimeter setting, 30.22 inches of mercury.


Blanding Municipal Airport, elevation 5,865 feet, is an uncontrolled airport, located 3 miles south of town. It has one runway, 17-35/6,000 feet x 150 feet, asphalt. The fixed base operator and fuel facility are located on the east side of the runway.


The National Transportation Safety Board's on-scene investigation was conducted on July 27, 2003.

The airplane was located at 37 degrees, 34.81' north latitude, and 109 degrees 29.03' west longitude, or approximately 50 feet west and 1,500 feet north of the departure end of runway 17. At the beginning of the wreckage path was an 8-inch crater in soft dirt, with two short scars extending out from the hole in a V-shaped pattern. At the end of one of these ground scars were green lens fragments. At the end of the other ground scar were red lens fragments.

Next to the crater was the propeller assembly with two of the three blades still attached to the hub. The spinner cone was crushed around the propeller hub and bore spiraling striations. There were leading edge polishing and chordwise scratches on the cambered surfaces of the two blades, extending from the root and to the tip. Arbitrarily labeled for identification purposes, blade "A" was bent aft and twisted 20 degrees towards low pitch. Blade "B" was bent forward at the root and twisted 10 degrees towards low pitch. The third propeller blade was located 50 feet south from the nose of the airplane.

The airplane bore impact and fire damage, but there was no evidence of preimpact or in-flight fire. The fuselage, empennage, and wings were approximately 27 feet away from the impact crater, aligned on a magnetic heading of 120 degrees. The fuselage, containing the instrument panel, passenger compartment, and controls was melted and consumed by fire. The J- [Johnson] bar (landing gear actuator) was stowed on the floor (gear up) and this position was confirmed by examining the landing gear turnbuckle. The structural tubing, forming the frame of the fuselage, was fractured in many places, and was bent and charred. The front seats were detached from their tracks, and the tracks were fractured and partially melted. Seat track integrity could not be established. The engine cowling was consumed by fire, the engine mounts were fractured, and the engine was separated from the firewall.

Half of the left wing had been consumed by fire, starting at the wing root and extending mid-span. The leading edge of the left wing, starting at mid-span and extending to the wingtip, had accordion-type crushing and was partially charred. The left wing flap had partially separated from the wing and was bent aft, towards the wing tip. The leading edge of the wing, towards the wing tip, was crushed aft to the aileron. The left aileron was intact. Establishing aileron control continuity was not possible. The right wing was charred and had melted starting at the wing root and extending to 1/3 its length. The leading edge of the wing, starting at mid-span and extending to the wing tip, had according-type crushing and was folded aft towards the aileron. The right flap was intact and was partially buried. The right aileron was intact and bent along the trailing edge about mid-span. Establishing aileron control continuity was not possible.

The empennage and the rear fuselage were intact. The left rear side of the fuselage was crushed inward. The right and left horizontal stabilizers were charred across their leading edges. Elevator and rudder continuity was established.

The left control yoke was fractured where the rod and the yoke attach. The control rod was bent down at mid-span. There was an indentation on the rod that matched a clip that was found nearby. The control yoke and rod bore extensive fire damage, but the clip did not.


The Utah State Medical Examiner's Office conducted an autopsy on the pilot on July 27, 2003. FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) conducted toxicological tests of specimens from the pilot. According to CAMI's report (200300227001), there was no evidence of ethyl alcohol, carbon monoxide, cyanide, or drugs.


The engine was disassembled and examined on July 28, 2003. The engine and accessories bore extensive fire damage. Thumb suction and compression was obtained on all cylinders. All cylinders were borescoped. No anomalies were noted. Crankshaft and valve train continuity was established. No discrepancies were noted that would have precluded power from being developed prior to impact.

A handheld Garmin GPS (global positioning system) was recovered and sent to Garmin International, Inc., in Olathe, Kansas. Data from the Las Vegas-Blanding leg was extracted. The airplane landed at Blanding at 1014. The GPS unit was not turned on at the time of the accident, and accident data was not recorded.

The left control yoke was matched with the rod, and the clip was matched with the indentation on the rod. It was compared with another Mooney M20C at StraightFlite, a Centennial Airport repair facility in Englewood, Colorado. Full forward control yoke travel was achieved with the clip in place. There was evidence that some unidentified object had been attached to the clip. When the clip was turned towards the instrument panel, full forward control yoke travel could not be achieved.


A youth correctional facility, located north of runway 17, had a surveillance camera operating and scanning the exercise yard. In the background was the airport. A copy of the tape was obtained and examined. The video depicted an airplane on takeoff roll at 1051. Shortly thereafter, a plume of dirt rose into the air, followed by rising smoke.

Other than the Federal Aviation Administration, the only other party to the investigation was Textron Lycoming.

The airplane wreckage was released to an insurance company representative on July 28, 2003.

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