On August 10, 1997, at 1240 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 150H airplane, N22286, registered to and operated by a private owner as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Los Alamos, New Mexico. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the cross country flight. The private pilot was seriously injured, and his pilot rated passenger sustained minor injuries. The flight originated from Chandler, Arizona, about 3 hours 45 minutes prior to the accident.

During an interview conducted by the FAA inspector and on the enclosed Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2), the pilot-in-command (PIC) reported that the aircraft was fueled with automotive fuel from 5 gallon cans prior to departing Chandler Airport. He planned the flight to Los Alamos, New Mexico, considering a "small expected tailwind component." The anticipated time en route was 3 hours 40 minutes (326 NM) at about 90 knots ground speed, at an altitude of 7,500 and 9,500 feet msl.

The PIC further reported that the flight departed Chandler approximately 0910, climbed to 7,500 feet and then he set the power to "2,350 to 2,400 RPM." When nearing the Arizona and New Mexico border, the flight climbed to 9,500 feet and proceeded towards Los Alamos. As the flight neared Los Alamos, it proceeded northbound around the east side of restricted area R-5101, which is located south of Los Alamos. The airplane was about 1,000 feet higher than the runway as it passed west of White Rock, New Mexico. The flight turned final for Runway 27, about 3 miles from the approach end of the runway, and he noticed a "south wind" during the approach. The PIC also reported that "his normal approach procedure is to fly high, power off, which was his approach procedure on this flight." Flaps were up, mixture partially leaned, power off until the airplane encountered a "severe down draft," at which time he applied full power and the engine responded "normally." The PIC reported that he recalled nothing further, "although I must have made some effort to select a "landing" site, and although I do not recall doing so, I presume I made some effort to shut down the aircraft prior to impact."

During an interview conducted by the FAA inspector, the pilot rated passenger reported that the flight departed Chandler at 0855. The weather was "good" during the flight, and "winds were from the west at first, then changed to the south during the later part of the flight." The cruise altitude was about 7,500 feet msl, and the power setting was "2,400 RPM." The PIC leaned the mixture to "peak RPM, then 2 clicks richer." They approached the airport from the south. While on final approach the aircraft was "low on the glide path and they were at a high power setting, no flaps." They encountered a down draft and the PIC applied full power. "The engine responded but they hit terrain wings level short of the runway."

The airplane impacted trees and came to rest on its left side about 300 yards east of the approach end of Runway 27. The terrain was rocky and sloping up about 20 to 25 degrees to the west.

Examination of the aircraft by the FAA inspector revealed that the nose landing gear was bent aft and the left main landing gear was separated. The tail was partially separated from the fuselage. The leading edges of both wings were crushed aft outboard of the wing strut attachments and both wings were bent aft. The right wing strut was buckled and the wing was displaced downward. Both propeller blades were bent aft with "relatively little twisting or chordwise damage." One blade was bent aft about 90 degrees approximately 14 inches from the hub center. The other blade was bent aft about 45 degrees 15 inches from the hub center.

An examination of the airplane's fuel system revealed that the carburetor fuel bowl had approximately 2 ounces of fuel, and only a couple drops of fuel drained out of the fuel line. The fuel selector valve was found in the "ON" position. Approximately 2.7 gallons of fuel was drained from the left fuel tank and approximately .2 of a gallon drained from the right fuel tank for a total of 2.9 gallons of fuel drained from both fuel tanks. According to the FAA inspector there was no breach noted in the fuel system. The aircraft had two standard wing fuel tanks with a total capacity of 26 gallons of fuel. Total usable fuel for all flight conditions was 22.5 gallons. Total unusable fuel was 3.5 gallons.

At 1250, the wind at Santa Fe, New Mexico, 17 nautical miles southeast of the accident site, was reported from 180 degrees at 15 knots. The automated weather observing system (AWOS) at the Los Alamos Airport was not operational at the time of the accident.

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