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On December 14, 2000, at 2116 mountain standard time, a Mooney M20K, N5772C, was destroyed when it impacted Mt. Ogden (Snowbasin Ski Area) near Ogden, Utah. The instrument rated private pilot was fatally injured. The pilot was operating the aircraft under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Night instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed at the accident site at the time of the accident. The cross-country personal flight originated from Kansas City International Airport 5 hours 27 minutes before the accident. The pilot did not file a flight plan, but he did use flight following services.
The Ogden-Hinckley Airport Air Traffic Control Tower documented the airplane departing Ogden at 0927 on the morning of the accident. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Salt Lake Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) reported that the pilot flew IFR at 14,000 feet to Kansas City, Missouri, and landed at 1339 (trip time of 4 hours 12 minutes).
Fuel records and service personnel at Kansas City International (KCI) Airport indicate that the pilot had his fuel tanks "topped off" with 63 gallons of fuel. Tower records at KCI indicate that the airplane departed at 1549. Once airborne, the pilot requested flight following. At 2107, the airplane started to descend from 14,500 feet into Ogden. Radar data indicates that the airplane was descending at approximately 500 feet per minute. At 2114:46, the pilot said "I've got Ogden in sight," and he cancelled services with Salt Lake ARTCC. The last radar return at 9,400 feet was recorded at 2115; calculations based on the airplane's ground speed indicate that it impacted the mountain at 2116 (trip time of 5 hours 27 minutes).
According to FAA records, the pilot reported on his last FAA medical application, dated April 11, 2000, that he had 6,020 hours of flight experience with 150 hours during the last 6 months. FAA records indicate that the pilot had been flying this airplane since October 29, 1984.
The pilot successfully completed a biennial flight review on April 25, 2000.
The airplane was a single engine, propeller-driven, four seat airplane, which was manufactured by Mooney Aircraft Corporation in 1984. It was powered by a Continental TSIO-360-MB4B, six cylinder, reciprocating, horizontally opposed, direct drive, air cooled, fuel injected, turbo-charged engine, which had a maximum takeoff rating of 210 horsepower at sea level. At the time of the accident, maintenance records and the engine tachometer reading indicated that the engine had 837 hours of operation, and the airframe had 3,928 hours of total time.
The airplane received its last annual inspection on August 13, 1999. The airplane was equipped with a built in oxygen system, but its service status at the time of the accident could not be determined. The airplane was modified with long-range fuel tanks with a total capacity of 116 gallons (106 gallons usable) in 1992.
At 2053, the weather conditions at the Ogden-Hinckley Airport (elevation 4,470 feet), 270 degrees 6 nm from the accident site, were as follows: wind 150 degrees at 7 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; cloud condition 8,000 feet above ground level (agl) broken, 11,000 feet agl overcast; temperature 36 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 28 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter setting 30.00 inches. The National Weather Service documented that, at 1700, the winds aloft over Salt Lake City were as follows: 8,000 feet mean sea level (msl) 220 degrees at 12 knots; 9,000 feet msl 240 degrees at 17 knots; 12,000 feet msl 265 degrees at 24 knots; 14,000 feet msl 275 degrees at 32 knots; 15,000 feet msl 285 degrees at 33 knots.
The National Weather Service further documented that the cloud cover from 8,000 feet msl to 14,500 feet msl was intermittent with scattered to broken conditions. They further stated that moderate to isolated severe turbulence was present in the Wasatch Range area below 10,000 feet. AIRMET Sierra was issued at 1700 for the Rocky Mountain Area (including all of Utah) warning pilots of IFR conditions and mountain obscuration.
The University of Utah database for Snowbasin-Straw Top Ski Resort (SB2) indicates that from 1700 to 2200, the winds were west, southwest with maximum gusts to 34 knots. This recording facility is located at 8,999 feet elevation, approximately 3/4 nm south of the accident location.
Three employees on a snow making work detail for Snowbasin Ski Area reported the following: Employee 1. "On the evening of December 14, 2000, the weather was extremely bad, high winds and blowing snow." Employee 2. "Our snow making crew left early (around 8:30 P.M.) because it was snowing very heavily, probably about an inch to an inch and a half an hour." He said that visibility was extremely poor, quite windy, and pretty dark. Employee 3. "We ended our shift at snow making early due to blizzard conditions." He said that the winds were steady at 15 to 20 knots, with gusts 30 to 35 knots; visibility was near zero with horizontal snow.
An individual snowmobiling on Willard Peak (approximately 20 nm north of the accident site) was fatally injured in an avalanche at approximately 2000. Rescue team members reported that the winds were out of the west, in the 20 to 30 knot range. They also reported poor visibility due to blowing snow.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACACT INFORMATION
The airplane was found on the east side of Ogden Mountain (N41 degrees, 12.17 minutes; W111 degrees, 52.99 minutes; elevation 8,885 feet). The propeller hub with blades, Plexiglas pieces, and various aircraft debris were found on a vertical cliff approximately 100 feet below the mountain ridge. The main wreckage, with engine, was found approximately 800 feet down slope.
All of the airplane's major components were accounted for at the accident site. The flight control surfaces were all identified, but control cable continuity could not be established due to impact damage. The right flap was in an intermediate position. The left wing was separated from the fuselage, and its flap position could not be determined. The landing gear was in the up position.
The fuselage, empennage, cockpit area, instrument panel, and flight controls were severely damaged. The altimeter read 12,500 feet; the throttle and propeller controls were found full forward. The front of the engine case was broken, and the crankshaft was broken a few inches behind the flange. Three of the cylinders were broken. An engine continuity check could not be performed due to impact damage. The turbocharger was in place; the turbine rotated with difficultly. One propeller blade was bent back approximately 30 degrees with "S" twisting, severe leading edge gouging, and its tip was missing. The second blade was bent back with "S" twisting and its tip was missing as well.
The airplane's Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) did not activate; its battery was out of date. Fuel was found at the accident site.
No preimpact engine or airframe anomalies, which might have affected the airplane's performance, were identified.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the State of Utah, Department of Health, Salt Lake City, Utah, on December 17, 2000.
Toxicology tests were performed on the pilot by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. According to CAMI's report (#200000347001), the pilot's blood was tested for carbon monoxide and cyanide with negative results. The pilot's urine was tested for volatiles (ethanol) and drugs with negative results.
The airplane, including all components and logbooks, was released to the owner's wife on June 6, 2001.