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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: CEN15FA255
14 CFR Public Aircraft
Accident occurred Friday, June 05, 2015 in Raton, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/11/2017
Aircraft: CUB CRAFTERS CC18-180, registration: N162WR
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airplane, which was being operated as a public aircraft, departed with the pilot and a gunner on board for the local flight. The purpose of the flight was to locate and kill coyotes in a geographical area with a history of livestock damage. According to the ground-based spotter, the pilot established radio contact with him after the airplane passed over the mesa that bordered the western edge of the target area. The pilot transmitted that he had observed a coyote behind the spotter's position and that they were going to perform a low-altitude pass for the gunner to kill the coyote. The spotter turned around and located the coyote using his binoculars. He reported that he heard 2 to 3 shotgun blasts as the airplane passed through his field of view on a northeast heading. He remained focused on the coyote as the airplane exited his field of view, and, shortly thereafter, he heard it impact the ground.

A review of recovered GPS data indicated that the airplane descended to about 41 ft above the ground and then entered a climbing left turn. The airplane's calculated groundspeed decreased from 77 mph to 55 mph during the climbing left turn. According to the airplane flight manual, the wings-level aerodynamic stall speed was 52 mph with the flaps retracted; however, the stall speed increased to 56 mph when the airplane was in a coordinated 30° banked turn and 74 mph when the airplane was in a coordinated 60° banked turn. A postaccident examination established that the airplane had crashed in a nose-low, near-vertical attitude. Based on the GPS data and the near-vertical impact angle, the pilot likely did not maintain adequate airspeed during the climbing left turn, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall at a low altitude. The postaccident wreckage examination did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane during the flight.

Although postaccident toxicological testing of the pilot identified three over-the-counter sedating antihistamines, the lack of available blood for testing prevented a determination as to whether they affected the pilot's psychomotor or cognitive functioning during the accident flight.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering at a low altitude, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall.