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On March 10, 2001, at approximately 0855 mountain standard time, a Cessna T210L, N222ED, was destroyed following impact with terrain while maneuvering near Howard, Colorado. The non-instrument rated private pilot, the sole occupant the airplane, was fatally injured. The airplane was being operated by the pilot under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country personal flight that originated from Hollis, Oklahoma, approximately 3 hours 45 minutes before the accident. The pilot had not filed a flight plan; however, family members said the pilot was en route to Salida, Colorado.
The pilot and his wife departed Salida, Colorado, on March 9, 2001, and flew to Hollis, Oklahoma, to visit family members. The pilot's wife said that their flight to Hollis, at 11,500 feet, took 2.5 hours (direct distance is 374 nautical miles [nm]). She said that the pilot departed Hollis, on the morning of the accident, at 0510 MST (beginning civil twilight, 0532; sunrise, 0557) to return to Salida. The pilot's wife said that his route of flight was Hollis, Oklahoma, to Amarillo, Texas, to Dalhart, Texas, to Walsenburg, Colorado, to Pueblo, Colorado, and on to his final destination, Salida, Colorado.
No documentation could be located which indicated that the pilot received a weather briefing before takeoff, or any in-flight weather advisories. His actual route of flight could not be confirmed.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) radar data was scanned from between 0630 and 0900 for targets in the Pueblo area and specifically for targets flying up the Arkansas River Valley. A radar target, with a 1200 beacon code, was identified flying up the Arkansas River Valley towards Howard, Colorado, at 6,400 feet (terrain elevation 5,200 feet) at 0828:51. This radar target was first identified at 0757:30 flying north towards Pueblo at 5,700 feet. During the approximate 30 minutes of available radar data, the airplane's average ground speed was calculated to be 124 knots, and its average flight altitude was approximately 6,200 feet.
An airport employee, at Harriet Alexander Field, Salida, Colorado, reported that he heard two "very garbled" radio transmissions between approximately 0825 and 0840. He said that he could not hear the airplane's call sign, but he believes that the pilot was asking for the weather conditions at the field.
The family reported the pilot overdue at 0900, and U.S. Air Force search and rescue personnel began receiving an Emergency Location Transmission (ELT) from their satellites at approximately 1050 (satellites are spaced approximately 90 minutes apart, and two passes may be required to confirm an ELT signal). Local search and rescue team members located the airplane on March 11, 2001.
The pilot's flight logbook, including his flight time to Oklahoma and back, indicated that the pilot had accumulated 1,098 hours of flight experience since July 1971, when he started flying. His flight logbook further indicated that he had flown approximately 51 hours over the previous 12 months, and 24 hours during the previous 90 days. On his last insurance application dated October 1, 1999, he indicated that he had 725 hours in Cessna T210s. The pilot's flight logbook indicates that he satisfactorily completed a FAA required flight review on December 30, 1999. He did not have an instrument rating.
The pilot was a part owner of the airplane since 1976, and became the sole owner on June 30, 1994. The pilot performed a gear up landing on October 10, 1999. The FAA counseled him on December 9, 1999, and he did remedial training at Leadville, Colorado, on December 30, 1999.
The airplane was a single engine, propeller-driven, retractable gear, six seat airplane, which was manufactured by Cessna Aircraft Company in 1974. It was powered by a Teledyne Continental TSIO-520-H, six cylinder, reciprocating, horizontally opposed, direct drive, air cooled, fuel injected, turbo-charged engine, which had a maximum takeoff rating of 285 horsepower at sea level. The airplane's airframe logbook indicated that the last annual inspection was performed on October 1, 2000. The aircraft maintenance records and pilot flight logbook suggest that, at the time of the accident, the airframe had accumulated approximately 1,690 flight hours.
The airplane held a total of 90 gallons of fuel, or 44.5 usable gallons per side. The pilot's wife said that the airplane was hangared while in Hollis, Oklahoma, and that it had been topped off with fuel upon their arrival in preparation for the pilot's return flight to Salida, Colorado. The airplane's Owner's Manual indicated that at 80 percent power, at 10,000 feet, the airplane cruised at 180 knots. At 50 percent power at 8,000 feet, the airplane cruised at 139 knots and had an endurance (with a 45 minute reserve) of 4 hours 45 minutes.
At 0754, the weather conditions at the Pueblo Municipal Airport (elevation 4,726 feet), 270 degrees 80 nautical miles (nm) from the accident site, were as follows: wind calm; visibility 10 statute miles (sm); cloud condition 7,000 feet overcast; temperature 48 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 28 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter setting 29.73 inches. At 0834, the weather conditions at the Lake County Airport (elevation 9,927 feet), Leadville, Colorado, 320 degrees 45 nm from the accident site, were as follows: wind calm; visibility 3/4 sm with light snow and mist; cloud condition 1,900 feet overcast; temperature 25 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 23 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter setting 29.76 inches. At 0757, the weather conditions at the Central Colorado Regional Airport (elevation 7,946 feet), Buena Vista, Colorado, 320 degrees 15 nm from the accident site, were as follows: wind calm; visibility 1 sm with light snow; cloud condition 1,000 feet indefinite ceiling; temperature 34 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 32 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter setting 29.97 inches. Between 0730 and 0800, the weather conditions at Harriet Alexander Field (elevation 7,489 feet), Salida, Colorado, were unofficially estimated, by an airport employee, to be: wind calm; visibility 1/2 to 3/4 sm (no precipitation); cloud condition 150 to 200 feet overcast; temperature unknown; altimeter setting unknown.
The National Weather Service, Pueblo Regional Forecast Office, issued a winter storm warning at 0654, warning of potentially heavy snow, and potential areas of blowing and drifting snow resulting in poor visibility. The Fremont County Sheriff reported severe weather, snow showers with thunder storms, in the vicinity of the accident site until noon on the day of the accident.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane was found (N38 degrees, 28.10'; W105 degrees, 55.60'; elevation 8,603 feet) on a forested 40 degree Sangre de Cristo mountain slope (sloping down, 90 degrees to the right of the ground scar). The trees were up to 8 inches in diameter and 15 to 30 feet in height. The downed trees, separated tree branches, and aircraft debris were on an 310 degree orientation, and extended for approximately 275 feet. The separated vegetation suggested that the airplane was in level flight and in a 30 degree right bank, at the time of impact. The impact site was approximately 1.5 sm south of Highway 50, which leads to Salida, Colorado.
All of the airplane's major components were accounted for at the accident site. The right and left outboard wing sections separated from the main fuselage, and were fragmented along the impact debris trail. The remaining inboard sections of each wing came to rest with the fuselage, and were twisted to parallel the longitudinal axis of the aircraft. The landing gear was retracted, and the flap actuation screw indicated that the flaps were retracted. All the flight control surfaces were identified, and no control continuity could be established to the cockpit due to impact damage. The engine was separated from the fuselage, and all flight instruments, flight controls, and avionics were destroyed. The three instrument gyros were examined, each exhibited rotational scoring.
The engine's crankshaft was found broken behind the propeller mounting flange. There was heavy impact damage to the #6 cylinder and the oil pan. The left bank of spark plugs were removed from their cylinders, and the plugs appeared normal in color. Two fuel screens were removed, appeared clean and wet with fuel. Two of the propeller blades had separated from the hub. All the blades exhibited varying degrees of "S" bending, tip curling, and heavy leading edge damage.
No preimpact engine or airframe anomalies, which might have affected the airplane's performance, were identified. There was no evidence of fire.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot by an independent forensic pathologist for Freemont County, Canon City, Colorado, on March 12, 2001.
The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI's report (#200100060001), carbon monoxide and cyanide tests were not performed. Volatiles (ethanol) and drugs were tested for, the results were negative. The pilot's urine was tested for glucose; the results were 365 mg/dl. CAMI's manager of their toxicology laboratory said "Elevated glucose levels can also be caused by emergency medical treatment, strenuous exercise, strong emotions, shock and burns."
The pilot made no reference on his last FAA medical application, dated March 1, 2000, to having diabetes.
The airplane, including all components and logbooks, was released to a representative of the owner's insurance company on April 26, 2002.