DEN01LA054
DEN01LA054

On February 18, 2001, approximately 1600 mountain standard time, N3051U, a Piper PA-32-300, owned and operated by the pilot, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain during landing at Angel Fire, New Mexico. The private pilot and one passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the personal flight being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated at Colorado Springs, Colorado, approximately 1430.

According to the pilot's accident report, he made an approach to runway 35 and applied "full cross control" for the crosswind that the airport reported to be from 260 degrees at 20 knots and gusting. As the airplane touched down, "a strong gust of wind" pushed the airplane to the right side of the runway and the pilot aborted the landing. During the abort, the nose landing gear struck a 24-inch high snow bank. The pilot turned around and landed on runway 17. When the airplane touched down, the nose landing gear folded and the airplane skidded to a halt.

According to the FAA inspector's report, the airplane touched down 4,500 feet past the runway 35 threshold (8,900 feet x 100 feet, asphalt), encountered a gust of wind, and drifted to the right. It struck a snow bank at the 5,900-foot mark. The pilot aborted the landing and made a teardrop turn back to runway 17. The airplane touched down 2,750 feet from the end of runway 35 and skidded to a halt 1,800 feet from the end of the runway (see airport diagram). The nosewheel was bent aft and the firewall was buckled.

Employees at the airport witnessed the accident. One employee said the wind had been gusting between 24 and 30 knots. The pilot "overflew 2/3 of runway on first approach and attempted to land, drifting to the east of the runway, nearly cartwheeling," wrote one employee. He advised the pilot via radio that his nose landing gear had been damaged but there was no response."

According to the Piper PA-32-300 Pilot's Operating Handbook (p. 2-7), the demonstrated crosswind component, which is placarded on the instrument panel "in full view of the pilot," is 17 knots. The angular difference between the runway headings (350 degrees and 170 degrees) and the reported wind direction (260 degrees) is 090 degrees. According to the Crosswind/Headwind Component Chart, this would result in a direct 90 degree left crosswind (when landing on runway 35) and a direct 90 degree right crosswind (when landing on runway 17). The crosswind component would be 20 knots, 24 knots, or 30 knots, depending on the reported wind velocity and gusts.

Recorded winds at Taos, New Mexico (the nearest weather reporting station), located 23 n.m. west of Angel Fire, were similar to those reported at Angel Fire: 260 degrees at 18 knots, with gusts to 21 knots.

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