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On November 5, 2000, about 1455 hours mountain standard time, a Piper PA28-200, N3032R, operated by Air West Flying Club of Broomfield, Colorado, was destroyed during an in-flight structural failure event near Teec Nos Pos, Arizona. The private rated pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for portions of the personal flight, operating under 14 CFR Part 91, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated at Page, Arizona, about 1400, as a return flight to Broomfield.
The pilot contacted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Prescott Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) by telephone from Page, at 1306, and requested a forecast for Pueblo, Colorado. The forecast was for winds gusting to 30; showers in the vicinity; scattered clouds at 4,000 agl; broken clouds at 7,000 agl; lowering clouds after 1700; and an increase in occasional rain and snow showers. The pilot was issued an Airmet for icing in Colorado mountain obscuration, and from Phoenix, Arizona, to Denver, Colorado, turbulence from the surface to 39,000 feet. During the briefing the pilot told the briefer that he was "trapped in Page, Arizona, trying to get back the Denver; when does it look like the system is going to clear out a little? Do you have any information on that?"
At 1420, the pilot contacted the Prescott Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) by radio over Kayenta, about 60 miles west of the accident site. He requested, and was given, the current weather conditions at Grand Junction and Farmington, New Mexico. He requested three other locations in Colorado; all were marginal for visual flight. At 1425, the pilot told the briefer "we'll be heading the southern route."
The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) provided notification of an emergency crash locator beacon signal. The wreckage was located about 1145 in the Carrizo Mountains, at an elevation of about 8,610 feet msl, approximately 51 nautical miles on the 260-degree radial from the Farmington VOR navigational facility.
According to accident flight reconstruction information, the airplane departed Jeffco Airport, Broomfield, on November 3, and was scheduled to return November 5, about 1800. The pilot had not told the operator of his intended destination. The airplane was refueled at North Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 4, and at Page on November 5. According to fuel service witness information at Page, the airplane made a fuel stop and departed. The fuel invoice was paid at 1338.
According to the flying club, it is their written and member signed policy to require all members to file flight plans for flights over 50 nautical miles or more, and all cross-country flight destinations are to be given to the operator.
Information recovered from a notepad found in the wreckage documented a flight route from Broomfield (Jeffco), Monarch Pass, Blue Mesa, Dove Creek, Page, and Las Vegas, for a total distance of 545 miles.
On August 11, 1991, the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate for airplane single engine land. At the pilot's last documented third-class flight physical he reported a total flight time of 211 hours. On December 31, 1999, the pilot signed an agreement to become a member of the Air West Flying Club, accepting the terms and conditions. Subsequently the pilot was checked out in the club's Cessna 182, Mooney M20J, and on May 15, 2000, the accident airplane. According to the the pilot's logbook, and the last document entry dated October 25, 2000, he had accumulated about 274 flight hours, about 13.5 hours in the accident airplane.
An examination of logbook information revealed that at the last documented 100-hour inspection conducted on July 13, 2000, the airplane had acumulated 4,045 total flight hours. The last annual inspection occurred on March 3, 2000, at 3,941 total hours. The last recorded 24-month static and altimeter check occurred on September 30, 1998.
A Safety Board staff meteorologist performed a weather study of the accident flight. The report is appended to this report. According to the Apache County Sheriff, it was snowing at the time of the accident in the area of Teec Nos Pos. The first FAA facility contacted by the pilot for weather information on the day of the accident occurred on the return flight at Page via airport weather phone. The second time was over the town of Kayenta, by radio. The pilot requested the current weather at six different airport locations in Colorado. The briefer reported wide spread mountain obscuration with generally windy deteoriating conditions. At the conclusion of the conversation the pilot said that they would be heading the southern route.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The Safety Board did not travel to the accident site. The wreckage was recovered by helicopter from mountainous terrain. The airplane broke up in flight, scattering sections of the airframe on the tree covered mountain side. Neither the horizontal stabilizer nor left aileron were found. The Safety Board examined the wreckage after recovery at Phoenix, Arizona. A layout examination of the airframe revealed a near symmetrical wing pane overload failure had occurred. The failure points were outboard of the fuel tanks, about the factory wing splices, and exhibited overload signatures.
Examination of the engine failed to reveal any preimpact mechanical failures. The oil screen was clean. The spark plugs appeared to have normal operating signatures. The left magneto was hand functional tested, sparking all four towers. The right magneto was destroyed. Finger compression was established on all four cylinders, along with valve train continuity by crankshaft rotation. The fuel control diaphram was intact and the fuel screen was clean.
Limited instrument indications were recovered. The instrument panel 8-day clock was stopped at 2:06.37; airspeed indicator 210 knots; altimeter indicated 120 feet and 29.76 inHg; tachometer needle 1,700 rpm; compass 300 degrees; and the fuel selector was located on the right fuel tank. The landing gear and flaps were determined to be in the retracted position at the time of the crash.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
There were no toxicology analyses performed due to the lack of suitable samples.
The wreckage was released to the insurance company representative on January 3, 2002.