NTSB Identification: DEN99FA066.
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Accident occurred Friday, April 23, 1999 in RUIDOSO, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/21/2000
Aircraft: Smith, Ted Aerostar 601P, registration: N48MD
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot departed on runway 06 with zero degrees of flaps. A witness said that she noticed that the airplane appeared to wobble and shudder, and immediately went into a steep right bank turn right after takeoff. The airplane then went into the clouds which were 200 to 400 feet agl. Radar data indicated that the airplane made several 90 degree turns prior to impacting the mountainous terrain 2.55 nm from the departure end of the runway. The pilot normally used 20 degrees of flaps for takeoff. A test pilot said that the airplane handles significantly different during takeoff if zero degrees of flaps are used verses 20 degrees of flaps. The upper cabin's entry door was found, with the locking handle and locking pins, in the closed position. No preimpact engine or airframe anomalies, which might have affected the airplane's performance, were identified.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control for undetermined reason. A factor was the low ceiling IMC weather condition.

Full narrative available

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