On December 23, 2004, approximately 1415 mountain standard time, a Mooney M20E, N5550Q, operated by a commercial pilot, was substantially damaged during a wheels up landing at Telluride Regional Airport (TEX), Telluride, Colorado. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot and his three passengers reported no injuries. The cross-country flight originated approximately 1400 and was en route to San Diego, California.

In the accident report submitted by the pilot, he stated that during the climb he noticed the tachometer was "reading high and erratic." As he continued to climb, he heard a sharp, piercing, "screeching and chirping noise." The pilot stated that he adjusted the propeller control and was able to "detect an audible reduction in the engine speed;" however, the screeching and chirping noise continued to increase in volume. The pilot elected to return to TEX to land. While on a right downwind leg for runway 09, the pilot extended his landing gear and attempted to extend flaps. The pilot stated that the flaps would not extend. He "slipped the airplane to slow [his airspeed] and descend." On short final, the pilot stated he inadvertently retracted the landing gear but was unaware of his error until the propeller hit the ground during the landing flare. The left wing rear carry-through spar was ground down and two ribs were bent. Flap fittings were bent and flap hinges were displaced.

Postaccident examination of the airplane, conducted by an airframe and powerplant mechanic, revealed that a bearing had seized inside of the engine tachometer and was producing the squealing and chirping noise. Further examination revealed that moisture had contaminated the hydraulic system and had frozen, preventing the extension of the flaps. No other anomalies with the engine, propeller or other airplane systems were noted.

According to the aviation routine weather report (METAR) for TEX, the temperature the day of the accident was 9 degrees Fahrenheit.

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