On September 30, 2000, at 1627 mountain daylight time, an Ercoupe 415-C, N2421H, was destroyed when it collided with the ground following a loss of control during initial climb following takeoff from Tucumcari Municipal Airport, Tucumcari, New Mexico. Both occupants, neither of whom held a pilot certificate, received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for this unauthorized flight that was originating at the time the accident occurred. No flight plan was filed. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
An airport employee, who witnessed the event, called the local authorities who arrived on scene in about 10 minutes. On arrival, they found the aircraft in flames with one person on board and the other person sitting on the ground about 50 yards from the aircraft. This person was conscious and had multiple burns over most of his body. He identified himself as the pilot of the aircraft and the other person as his father. He was transported to the local hospital where he passed away.
The airport employee said that the two occupants had taxied the airplane to the fueling facility where they purchased 9.2 gallons of 100 octane low lead aviation gasoline. He was unaware that they were not authorized to use the airplane or that neither was a qualified pilot. The airport employee related that he watched them taxi the airplane to runway 26 where they commenced a takeoff. Following lift off, at about 150 feet above ground level, the airplane was observed to "wobble" from side to side and enter a vertical dive, with the top of the airplane fully visible from the terminal building, until it impacted the ground and burst into flames.
According to the airplane's owner, he periodically hired the father and son to do odd jobs around the airport. On this occasion, he had hired them to mow grass in preparation for an upcoming air show. He said that they would have known where the airplane's keys were kept, and to the best of his knowledge, neither had any pilot training or experience.
A search of FAA records provided no evidence that either of the occupants had ever had either a medical certificate or a pilot's license.