NTSB Identification: FTW98FA121.
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Accident occurred Thursday, February 05, 1998 in ANGEL FIRE, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/15/2001
Aircraft: Mooney M20E, registration: N9213M
Injuries: 1 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 disappeared on a flight from Santa Fe to Angel Fire, New Mexico. The pilot did not obtain a weather briefing nor file a flight plan. The wreckage was located three days later in mountainous terrain at the 10,700 foot level. A witness told SAR personnel he had seen a low wing airplane 'flying in and out of the cloud bottoms' in the vicinity and at about the time of the accident. A meteorological study indicated moderate to severe turbulence associated with mountain wave activity, and marginal VFR conditions in the mountains. Radar data indicated that minutes before the accident, the airplane's altitude varied between 11,700 and 13,100 feet, ground speed reached a low of 64 knots and a high of 270 knots, and vertical speed varied between +4,800 and -6,000 feet per minute (+80 and -100 feet per second). At one point, the airplane made a complete 360 degree circle.

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

The pilot attempting VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions and his lack of an instrument rating. Factors were weather conditions that included mountain wave activity conducive to turbulence, and clouds obscuring the mountainous terrain.

Full narrative available

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