NTSB Identification: FTW97FA067.
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Accident occurred Saturday, December 21, 1996 in CHACON, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/23/1999
Aircraft: Beech A36, registration: N3869A
Injuries: 6 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 airplane collided with rugged, mountainous terrain while on a VFR cross country flight. According to all available information, the airplane was en route at an altitude between 9,000 and 13,000 feet MSL. Mountain peaks along the route of flight were in the 9,000 to 13,000 foot range. Area Pilot Reports (PIREPS) 16 for light airplanes, and weather observations confirmed that the airplane had flown into about 50-55 knot upper level headwinds, and through moderate to severe turbulence. One PIREP indicated that 'up' and 'down' drafts exceeded 1,000 feet per minute. Another PIREP indicated that 'stacked lenticular clouds were observed at a magnitude that he had not seen before.' According to the NTSB Meteorology Factual Report, the airplane was in severe to extreme turbulent air, and that mountain wave conditions may have been present at the time of the accident. The 8,200 hour pilot was familiar with the route of flight, and no condition of incapacitation was found during the autopsy. Examination of the airframe, engine, and propeller did not reveal any evidence of pre-impact failure(s).

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

The pilot's failure to maintain altitude and clearance from the high, mountainous terrain. Factors were; high wind, turbulence, and mountain wave conditions.

Full narrative available

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