NTSB Identification: CEN12LA427
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 07, 2012 in Taos, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/05/2013
Injuries: 2 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

A witness observed the kit-built airplane maneuvering at low altitude near a canyon. As it flew near the rim of a gorge, it rolled right, descended, and impacted the terrain. Postimpact examinations of the airplane did not reveal evidence of any preimpact malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. The pilot reported gusty wind conditions through the canyon, and weather data recorded at a regional airport 3.25 nautical miles northeast of the accident site, indicated wind from 160 degrees at 7 knots, gusting to 14 knots. Prevailing wind conditions through the canyon would likely result in strong updrafts and mechanical turbulence. The airplane model has a light wing loading, which decreases the stability of the wing in increased wind; the airplane flight manual cautions pilots to be aware of the potential for mechanical turbulence and its effect on the intended flightpath.

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

The pilot's decision to fly in gusty wind conditions at low altitude over mountainous terrain contrary to guidance in the airplane flight manual and subsequent loss of airplane control due to wind and turbulence.

Full narrative available

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