HISTORY OF FLIGHT Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
On June 12, 1995, at 1116 mountain daylight time, a Smith, Long-EZ, N86PD, was destroyed while maneuvering near Cloudcroft, New Mexico. The private pilot was fatally injured and his pilot rated passenger was seriously injured. The aircraft was being operated by the owner/builder, under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated from Alamogordo-White Sands Regional Airport near Alamogordo, New Mexico, at 1100. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross country flight and no flight plan was filed.
A lineman at the airport in Alamogordo, New Mexico, reported that the pilot asked that the airplane be serviced with 28 gallons of 100LL Avgas. The pilot further requested "put what will go into what ever tank then the rest in the other tank because the tanks were interconnected." The pilot checked the oil in the engine and when the lineman asked if he needed oil, the pilot responded negatively.
The airplane departed Alamogordo and headed east to fly over the Sacramento Mountains which rise to 9,580 feet. Witnesses observed the airplane fly low over High Rolls, New Mexico and on up the valley towards Piney Woods, New Mexico. Witnesses in Piney Woods reported to the State Police that "the aircraft was circling so low that they thought it was going to land."
The airplane was next observed at the top of the valley in the mountain pass village of Cloudcroft, New Mexico, where a witness reported that it overflew the village "at a very low altitude and missed the top of my building by 30 feet." The airplane continued to fly over the town at a very low altitude and several times was seen making abrupt steep bank heading changes. One witness reported that "the plane was on its side and the wings were perpendicular to the ground." On the east side of the village the airplane collided with a tall pine tree and subsequently impacted the ground. The elevation at the accident site was 8,665 feet and the calculated density altitude at the time of the accident was 11,900 feet.
The manufacturer selected a maximum gross weight of 1500 pounds; however, the designer stated that "routine operations above 1,325 pounds gross weight are not recommended." The maximum landing weight for a Long-EZ is 1,325 pounds. The designer further cautions that "operations above the designed gross weight limitations as stated in this manual, is a high risk activity and an extremely hazardous practice."
A higher maximum gross weight of 1,420 pounds may be used for takeoff only, provided certain limitations are followed which are outlined in the Owner's Handbook. The designer again cautions that "the pilot should not attempt high gross weight operations at high density altitudes." A calculation of the gross weight of the accident airplane at the time of takeoff was a minimum of 1,520 pounds.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane came to rest among trees at the base of a hill approximately 50 feet from highway US 82 and 100 feet west of mile post 17. Numerous pine branches with slash marks and paint transfers were found on a measured heading of 130 degrees leading to the final resting site of the airplane. Debris was found for 200 feet leading to the impact site. The fuselage came to rest on a measured heading of 223 degrees. See enclosed wreckage diagram for wreckage distribution.
Continuity was established to the engine and flight controls. The fuel tanks had been compromised, but fuel was found in the carburetor. An examination of the engine reveled no indications of anomalies that could have affected it's performance (see enclosed engineering report).
The airplane was released to the owner's representative.