NTSB Identification: CEN13FA327
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, June 08, 2013 in Mosca, CO
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-140, registration: N7147R
Injuries: 2 Fatal,1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 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.

On June 8, 2013, at 1050 mountain daylight time, a Piper model PA-28-140 airplane, N7147R, was substantially damaged during a collision with terrain near the summit of Medano Pass, located within the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, near Mosca, Colorado. The commercial pilot was fatally injured during the accident. One passenger died on June 18, 2013, while being treated for her injuries sustained during the accident. The other passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, without a flight plan. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the pleasure flight that departed Monte Vista Municipal Airport (KMVI), Monte Vista, Colorado, about 1015, and was en route to Fremont County Airport (1V6), Cannon City, Colorado.

The pilot’s son reported that he received a brief phone call from his father at 0954, during which his father told him that he was departing shortly for a flight north of the San Luis Valley, up to Salida and Canyon City. The pilot’s son indicated that his father had flown in the mountains for several years and that it was not uncommon for him to use the Medano Pass to cross over the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range. He indicated that the Medano Pass, situated at 10,030 feet mean sea level, was the lowest mountain pass in the nearby area which allows passage to the Wet Mountain Valley on the northeast side of the mountain range.

About 1045, several witnesses who were located along the Medano Pass Primitive Road, reported seeing the accident airplane flying low to the treeline (about 100-200 feet above the ground) toward the Medano Pass. The witnesses remarked that the engine was operating normally as the airplane passed over their position at a slow speed, but the airplane’s wings were banking up-and-down erratically. According to available information, there were no witnesses to the airplane impacting terrain. At 1101, a group of hikers notified local law enforcement of the accident after discovering the wreckage near the Medano Lake Trailhead junction.

An on-scene investigation was completed by representatives with the National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration, National Park Service, and Lycoming Engines. The main wreckage contained all primary structural components and flight control surfaces. The accident site was located at 9,660 feet mean sea level. The lack of any significant tree damage and the absence of a wreckage debris path were consistent with a near vertical impact with the prevailing terrain. The engine was found partially buried in the terrain. There was fuel blight of the ground foliage located in front of the main wreckage. The accident site contained an odor consistent with aviation fuel. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the flight control surfaces to their respective cockpit controls. The flight control cables were subsequently cut to facilitate wreckage movement and recovery. The wing flap selector handle was found engaged in the second position, consistent with the wing flaps being partially extended; however, damage to the flap torque tube prevented an actual measurement of flap extension. Engine crankshaft rotation confirmed internal continuity to each engine cylinder, the valve train, and accessory-section gearing. Compression and suction were noted on each cylinder as the engine crankshaft was rotated. The spark plug electrodes exhibited normal burn signatures and coloration. The engine fuel pump outlet line contained trace amount of fuel. The carburetor exhibited damage consistent with impact. The right magneto provided spark on all leads when rotated with an electric drill. The left magneto was unable to be tested because of impact damage to the distributor cap. The propeller was found located in front of the main wreckage, separated from the engine crankshaft flange. Both propeller blades exhibited leading edge damage, S-shaped bending, and burnishing of the blade backs. No preimpact anomalies were identified during the on-site investigation that would have prevented normal operation of the airplane.

The nearest aviation weather reporting station was located at San Luis Valley Regional Airport (KALS), Alamosa, Colorado, about 37 miles southwest of the accident site. At 1052, the KALS automated surface observing system reported the following weather conditions: wind 350 degrees true at 7 knots, visibility 10 miles, sky clear, temperature 21 degrees Celsius, dew point 0 degrees Celsius, altimeter setting 30.08 inches of mercury.

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