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On August 3, 1993, at approximately 0521 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 172M, N23459, was destroyed when it impacted a field at the southwest corner of Interstate Highway 40 and U.S. Highway 285, at Clines Corners, New Mexico. The pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. Although weather documents indicate visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the departure airport, instrument meteorological conditions existed at the accident site.
Federal Aviation Administration records indicate the pilot did not obtain a weather briefing nor file a flight plan. According to the pilot's wife, he left their house at about 0400, and was planning to fly from Albuquerque's Coronado Airport to Arkansas, with an en route stop in Amarillo, Texas. At 0730, a rancher came upon the wreckage. When he found the wreckage it was still dark and there was heavy fog and a light mist or drizzle falling.
Visibility was about 1/4-mile. He said these conditions had existed for several hours. The first police officer was on the scene at 0829. The officer reported similar weather conditions, as those reported by the rancher.
The pilot's logbook, documenting flights from March 12, 1989, to July 22, 1993, was found in the wreckage. The majority of the flights were in N23459. The logbook indicated that on August 27, 1990, and again on January 22, 1991, the pilot failed the instrument rating practical flight test. Two months later, on March 8, he passed. The pilot received an instrument competency check on September 10, 1992. In the six months prior to the accident, he had recorded 7.7 hours of instrument flight and 12 instrument approaches, all under simulated instrument conditions.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Accident site examination disclosed a 165 foot long left curving ground scar. At the beginning of this scar, there were two perpendicular gouges, measuring 24 inches apart. The main body of wreckage was 24 feet past the end of the scar, at the 189 foot point (see wreckage diagram attached to this report). All aircraft components were accounted for. The cambered surfaces of both propeller blades bore 45 and 90 degree chordwise scratches. Flight control continuity was established. The tachometer needle indicated 2600 RPM.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed by the New Mexico State Medical Examiners Office at Albuquerque, New Mexico. Toxicological screening was negative for alcohol and drugs.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
National Track Analysis Program data provided by the Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center showed a target, with a mode C transponder beacon code of 1200, in the vicinity of Coronado Airport at 0505, and at an altitude of 9,500 feet. The target was tracked to the vicinity of Clines Corners where, at 0521 and at an altitude of 8,200 feet, it disappeared. Elevation at Clines Corner is 7,105 feet.