CEN11TA064
CEN11TA064

On November 10, 2010, approximately 1200 mountain standard time, a Partenavia P.68, N44956, registered to and operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Austin, Texas, was destroyed when it encountered a downdraft and impacted terrain near Anthony, New Mexico. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed at the time of the accident. The pilot and two passengers on board the airplane sustained minor injuries. The public use flight originated at El Paso (ELP), Texas, at 1015 and was destined to return to ELP.

According to the pilot's accident report, he crossed the southern ridge of the Anthony Gap and observed a parked vehicle. To investigate further, the pilot lowered the flaps and descended to approximately 200 feet. There was a ridge approximately the same elevation as the flight path. On the other side of the mountain, winds were from the south approximately 10 to 15 knots. The pilot made a second pass over the vehicle at 200 feet and initiated a right turn. At that same moment, he encountered a tailwind that resulted in a rapid loss of airspeed and the airplane descended. The pilot leveled his wings and increased power. The airplane was too slow and low to turn out of the canyon. The pilot tried to cross over a saddle ridge but was too low. The left main gear struck the ridge and was torn off. The pilot rolled the wings to match the terrain but the nose dropped. The airplane buffeted and the stall warning sounded. The airplane struck the terrain and slid to a stop. The pilot said the unanticipated downdraft could not have been foreseen.

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