DEN99LA060
DEN99LA060

On March 26, 1999, approximately 2100 mountain standard time, a Diamond Aircraft Industries DA 20-A1, N528SS, operated by the Global Group of Glendale, Arizona, was destroyed after colliding with terrain following an in-flight encounter with weather while maneuvering near Coyote, New Mexico. The instrument rated commercial pilot and airline transport rated passenger received minor injuries. The aircraft was being operated under Title 14 CFR Part 91, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Santa Fe, New Mexico early on the morning of the accident, and the accident occurred during a return leg from Durango, Colorado, to Santa Fe. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site.

According to the pilot, he and his pilot-rated passenger rented the aircraft and had been flying cross-country since early on the morning of the accident for the purpose of building flight time. He and his passenger agreed to share in the workload, and the pilot assumed the role of PIC (pilot-in-command) along the route of flight from Durango to their intended destination of Santa Fe.

During a stop earlier in the day at the North Las Vegas Air Terminal, Las Vegas, Nevada, the pilot-rated passenger checked the weather using a computer located in the airport terminal and obtained information for Santa Fe. At the airport, the forecast was for low clouds and a narrow temperature/dew point spread. He stated that he failed to obtain SIGMETS (significant meteorological information) along the route of flight.

Approximately 40 miles from Santa Fe, the pilot obtained the weather from the airport's ATIS (automatic terminal information service). The ceilings were reported to be overcast at 1,300 feet. He considered diverting to Taos, New Mexico, but the airport was reporting similar weather conditions, and the aircraft did not have enough fuel to make it to Albuquerque. He also considered requesting an emergency instrument approach into Santa Fe, but stated that it "did not seem necessary to us at the time." In addition, the aircraft was not IFR (instrument flight rules) equipped.

The pilot initiated a descent in order to get below the cloud layer that was forming over the valley. Upon reaching 9,500 feet, he and his passenger began to encounter snow, followed by fog and rain. Simultaneously, he lost communication and navigation capabilities. After observing snow and pine trees on the ground, the pilot applied full power to initiate a climb. Shortly thereafter, he entered instrument meteorological conditions. The aircraft then impacted trees in a 90 right bank and at a 45 degree downward pitch. The aircraft came to rest in an inverted position along a 45 degree inclining mountainous slope covered by several feet of snow.

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