DEN08LA079
DEN08LA079

On April 17, 2008, approximately 1230 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA-28-181, N6260J, piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed when it struck terrain shortly after taking off from Reserve Airport (T16), Reserve, New Mexico. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan had been filed. The pilot and one passenger were seriously injured, and one passenger sustained minor injuries. The cross-country flight was originating at the time of the accident, and was en route to Mesa (FFZ), Arizona.

According to the pilot's accident report, takeoff was from runway 24. The wind was from 210 degrees at 10 to 12 knots. The pilot said that after the airplane lifted off and climbed above tree level, he encountered "severe wind gust (right quartering tail wind) from approximately 040 degrees [of] at least 20+ knots." He said the airplane lost lift and was blown off runway centerline. He tried to "stabilize the [air]plane but with [the] loss of lift, [it] impacted [the] ground hard, [with the] nose and left wing, [and] flipped [over]." The airplane caught fire and was totally consumed.

An FAA inspector went to the accident site and recovered a window-mounted Lowrance Airmap 2000c GPS (Global Positioning System) from the wreckage. The unit was sent to NTSB's Vehicle Recorder Division where stored data was successfully downloaded. According to NTSB's factual report, the Airmap 2000c does not record time or altitude. The report stated: "Recorded track data corresponding to the flight on April 17, 2008, are consistent with the aircraft being on the ground at Reserve, NM. Recorded tracklog data indicate that the aircraft moved from the ramp area to a point approximately 1,000 [feet] from the approach end for runway 24. The aircraft performed a 180 degree turn on the runway and traveled to a point directly abeam the numbers for the 09 end of the runway, and about 80 feet south of the runway centerline. The last recorded GPS location was recorded at 1606:45 CDT and placed the aircraft at N33 degrees, 41.547', W108 degrees, 51.434'. Calculated average course between the last two recorded data points was 245 degrees true."

The pilot's brother, who witnessed the accident, was interviewed by the FAA inspector via telephone. He saw the airplane take off and climb, then descend left wing low. Although he did not see the impact, he heard it and went to the accident site. He helped extricate the right front seat passenger. He placed all three victims in his truck and, while he was driving to a medical facility, he encountered a sheriff's deputy, who summoned emergency medical personnel.

According to AirNav.com, Reserve Airport is at an elevation of 6,360 feet msl. Runway 06-24 is 4,800 feet long and 50 feet wide, and constructed of asphalt. Runway 24 has a 1.9 per cent uphill gradient.

The pilot estimated his useful load to be 898 pounds and takeoff weight to be 2,430 pounds. The airplane has a gross weight of 2,550 pounds, and an empty weight of 1,540 pounds.

According to the U.S. Forest Service ranger station, located approximately 5 miles east of the airport, the temperature at 1300 was 53 degrees Fahrenheit. FAA calculated the density altitude to be between 6,900 and 7,300 feet.

According to FAA records, the pilot took his private pilot practical test in the latter part of February 2008 and failed. He retook the test and passed it in the early part of March 2008. Other than the flight to Reserve, the pilot's only other high density altitude experience was when he flew into Payson, Arizona.

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