NTSB Identification: CEN13FA183
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 03, 2013 in Angel Fire, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/30/2014
Aircraft: MOONEY M20E, registration: N3484X
Injuries: 4 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.

Before takeoff, strong, gusting wind from the west was present, so a fixed-base operator (FBO) employee asked the pilot about his intent to fly. He stated that the pilot seemed "confident" about his ability to fly the airplane and that he was not concerned about the wind. As the airplane departed, the reported wind was 33 knots gusting to 47 knots. The FBO employee stated that he saw the airplane "crab" into the wind about 40 degrees right of the runway's heading. The airplane rose and fell repeatedly as its wings rocked. When the airplane was between 75 and 150 feet above the ground, the left wing dropped, and the airplane then rolled left, descended inverted, and impacted terrain in a nose-down attitude. A postimpact examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. A weather research and forecasting model indicated that, at the time of the accident, the accident site was located within a turbulent mountain-wave environment, with low-level windshear, updrafts and downdrafts, downslope winds, and an environment conducive for rotors (that is, a violent rolling wave of air occurring in lee of a mountain or hill in which air rotates about a horizontal axis). The pilot had no prior experience flying out of the accident airport and it was the highest elevation airport he had ever used. In addition, he had limited experience flying in mountainous areas.

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

The pilot's loss of control while flying in a turbulent mountain-wave environment. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's overconfidence in his ability to safely pilot the airplane in gusting wind conditions and his lack of experience operating in mountainous areas.

Full narrative available

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