Crash in Angel Fire

Discussion in 'Aviation Mishaps' started by Alexb2000, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    Sadly we just had another one crash in Angel Fire yesterday. I didn't know him personally, but it just makes you sick. It happens every year like clock work.

    I don't know about anyone else, but sometimes it really gets me down about flying. Especially, when it's the same places you fly and with great frequency.

    http://www.taosnews.com/news/article_77eace66-8464-11e2-835a-001a4bcf887a.html

    Metar:
    METAR KAXX 032035Z AUTO 24034G45KT 10SM CLR 08/M08 A2992
    RMK AO2 T00781083=

    If he just would have waited a couple of hours the winds died down. Very sad and frustrating, be careful out there.
     
  2. douglas393

    douglas393 Pattern Altitude

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    Sad story. Even sadder in that you are right it was totally avoidable. I have fairly strict personal limits, and have cancelled a number of flights because of that. It is an interesting mindset we pilots have. I can think of a number of variations that would make a great study for some PhD thesis.
     
  3. supernovae

    supernovae Line Up and Wait

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  4. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    You're right it would be a good thesis, I'd sure like to know. On any given day Angel Fire is to be strongly respected, although sadly many of us Texas pilots are really cavalier about it. Assuming the destination was San Antonio and he wanted to get home, I would much rather have left about 4 PM and flown over the flat lands of Texas at night vs. leave in those conditions. Although some are very reluctant to fly a single at night, this is a good example of looking at each situation and deciding the best course of action without prejudice.
     
  5. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    I also don't mind flying around in windy conditions, although the turbulence wears me out just like you. I flown in places like Kansas with howling winds and it wasn't fun, but I never felt it was dangerous. Those winds on the lee side of a mountain 4 up in a NA 200HP bird at 8,400 MSL field elevation. Not no but...

    Also keep in mind this was a cross wind as is typical there. The runway is 17/35 winds were 240.
     
  6. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    That sounds like a bad idea to take off in the first place in that plane. Gusting to 48 would give me pause in the 310 if it was a direct crosswind...
     
  7. supernovae

    supernovae Line Up and Wait

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    That is a pretty healthy crosswind, I don't think I would have taken off with gusts up to 45 with a crosswind like that.. (definitely wouldn't.. that's way above my x wind personal limits.. skills.. any aircraft I have flown or have access to..)

    Yesterday I was flying in a little traumahawk, I think the controller was more concerned about me since he was announcing the winds every time I called midfield for touch & go. (gonna miss those guys if they go april 2nd!) but they were straight in with a little squirrely ground layer.

    I'm not normally overly concerned with a straight in wind as long as I understand the weather patterns that cause those winds.. In Austin area, its pretty predictable that you will have winds but they're usually fairly straight in.

    Last weekend doing pattern work with winds gusting 25+ out of 220 and taking off runway 18 was about the trickiest I've ever gone and I don't want to do that in the tiny pa38 again. I was glad I had my instructor with me and it was a great learning experience but the weird wind shear and updrafts/down drafts actually made that traumahawk feel like my fathers soar plane.

    How long do witness reports usually take to get published on something like this? Curious to hear what people saw on ground.
     
  8. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    I think it was two years ago similar conditions a 310 departed, cross wind blew him into the snow bank on the side of the runway and sheared off one of the mains. Pilot did a good job and flew to Taos, rolled the equipment, belly landed, all walked away.

    Even the mighty 310 has some (very few) limitations.:)
     
  9. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Well, the 310 is no LearBaron, which as we know is without limitations. ;)

    The crosswind gets to be an issue. I've landed at a 2900 ft runway with obstacles and a direct gusting 35 crosswind. It was doable, not what I'd call fun. This was at an airport I was familiar with, and the extra power helps you get going and get control faster. Then there's runway width, etc...
     
  10. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Very sad. Angel Fire is known for its crosswinds and, depending on which direction they were taking off, the rocks can be very close for a turn to the opposite direction.
     
  11. jsstevens

    jsstevens Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Fixed that...
     
  12. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach

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    I've met John before, very sad news indeed.
     
  13. Threefingeredjack

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    Has it been established that the wind was the cause? I don't know the layout there so I have no idea of the local conditions and terrain. Some of you who are familiar could help fill in the blanks. EDIT Pulled KAAX up on Air Nav. Winds from 240 and runway is 17/35 :yikes:
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2013
  14. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    Read this latest report. He was strongly warned, but felt he could handle it. No other arrivals or departures that afternoon:

    http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/state&id=9015423

    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2013/0304/New-Mexico-plane-crash-High-winds-blamed
     
  15. Alexb2000

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    Here is a picture of Angel Fire I took during the summer from 13,500. I am south of the airport over the pass.

    It lays some of this out better.
     

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  16. lmars

    lmars Pre-Flight

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    There were 4 people in that plane as well. Was the plane full of fuel? The density altitude was around 8900.

    I don't know what a Mooney useful load is but from my chair it looks like it may have been exceeded.
     
  17. Funkeruski

    Funkeruski Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Plus ski vacation baggage. Just a shame he killed 3 innocent people.
     
  18. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach

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    IIRC he had an Acclaim and 3 of the pax were women. He wouldn't need more than 3/4 tanks to get back to San Antonio with a healthy reserve. FWIW I can take myself and 3 120 pound women in my Mooney (J) and still be under gross.

    Lets give him the benefit of the doubt.
     
  19. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    David, it was an M20E, not an Acclaim. So a 200 HP IO-360, naturally aspirated. He could have potentially had the turbo STC, but unlikely.

    Then you have an airport located at 8400 MSL. I've taken off with density altitudes of that high in the Aztec, and it is incredible how much an airplane does not perform under those conditions, even when light.
     
  20. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach

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    I did 11,300' DA takeoff once in the 172, 'twasnt a pleasant experience.
     
  21. gigamonte

    gigamonte Filing Flight Plan

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    He would have probably been headed to Dallas, TX to drop his sister off.
     
  22. SCCutler

    SCCutler Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    The airplane's high DA performance is a major concern, but that's peripheral to the effort at departing in the wind conditions which were extant at that time.
     
  23. douglas393

    douglas393 Pattern Altitude

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    As with many accidents it seems a chain is being made. Seems like getthereitis got him in the end unfortunately.
     
  24. Threefingeredjack

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    Nicely done. Thanks. Just eyeballing the terrain and considering the wind velocity I would expect some very jumbled wind if not a fully developed rotor.
     
  25. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    Exactly. I can't believe any pilot wouldn't be very concerned about that intensity of wind coming down the lee side of a 13K mountain.
     
  26. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    My question is how much experience the pillot had with high DA situations and mountain flying.

    In my case, I have little and so I'm very conservative over there.
     
  27. danhagan

    danhagan Pattern Altitude

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    I guess only he, his family and log book know that answer. I fly in/around mountains all the time and still have run into situations that were not fun. Last one was winds calm at the surface before a front and 25G30 about 1000AGL. It lowered to 300AGL and during takeoff I had to climb in the pattern due to a downdraft, which quickly changed to an updraft and shot me from 300 to 1500 AGL in about 3 seconds.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  28. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    What I hear about crashes in Angel Fire is that they are not really mountain flying related. One of the most dangerous things that people forget in mountains is not only calculate their takeoff run, but also their climb rate for given DA and then overlay it against the terrain. So often they take off and think they have it in the bag, and then fail to outclimb fairly flat slopes. That is an example of true mountain flying hazard. Angel Fire, however, is easy: you take off to the north and then cut circuits over the lake until you are high enough to escape the area. I once did it in a Cherokee that climbed 150 fpm. So instead people crash when they're blown off the runway there. But ignoring 40 knot crosswind is something I would not advise even in Florida. And then gusts, it can grab you after takeoff, too.

    A renter in N28GX once flew out to Angel Fire, landed with no issues, and got stuck with winds for 4 days. He took a rental car and returned the next day. While the aircraft was tied down, a guy in Cherokee Six decided to take his chances and crashed, although he did not fly up like the man in this Mooney, but put a wingtip into snow bank. When the owner came to collect N28GX, he took a few pictures of the wreck. On one of them, I saw the left window of the Six smashed from inside where pilot's noggin hit it.

    Los Alamos was a more challenging field for me even though it's on a ridge and 1200 ft lower. I had to take it with tailwind there and it makes airplane feel weird. Los Alamos taxes one's technique, Angel Fire taxes one's ADM.
     
  29. Alexb2000

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    Pete-

    I think you could argue it either way. Poor ADM sure, but ADM didn't take him down from 200 AGL at the end of 17. Probably strong downdraft or rotor is my feeling.

    Los Alamos, plenty of bad things can happen there for sure.
     
  30. zaitcev

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    I suppose it's a valid look at it. He did overcome the crosswind and took off successfuly, although the article made me think he didn't go very far. The ground raises faster to the south than to the north. I wasn't able to go straight south even once, without zig-zags.

    One time I visited Angel Fire with my mountain instructor, Mr. Marc Coan. He showed me how to hug the eastern wall. I don't remember how much we were getting from it, but it was some large amount, way above 1000 fpm, on a rather quiet day. I imagine there was an equal downdraft on the other side.
     
  31. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I used to fly a B-200 into AF every year during grappling season. Always tried to take off north just to have the lake area for maneuvering.
     
  32. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    I took an IPC from Marc several years ago. Great pilot, I learned a lot from him. I heard he was sick for some time, I hope he's back at it.
     
  33. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    Me too. The only reason I can think that he wouldn't have used 35 was 70 degrees vs. 110. If some form of insanity grabbed me and I tried that take off I would have broke for the eastern side when the wheels came up, that's for sure.
     
  34. zaitcev

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    http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/brief.aspx?ev_id=20130303X91231&key=1
    NTSB Identification: CEN13FA183

    The reason he chose the unusual direction, on rwy 17, is because winds were 250@33G47 and he probably didn't want the tailwind component (only 10 degrees though).
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  35. Spencer Hamons

    Spencer Hamons Filing Flight Plan

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    I know this is an old post, but when people look up Angel Fire (KAXX) and consider flying in here, this thread comes up prominently in the search, so I am adding this note to catch folk's attention. I live full-time in Angel Fire and just did a "how-to" video about flying in-and-out of here. If you are considering making the flight, please take a look at the video. You can find it by looking at YouTube and searching for "Flying in-and-out of Angel Fire". Sorry, I don't have the required 5 posts to be able to provide a direct link to the video.

    Spencer Hamons
    N624DP
    Angel Fire, NM
     
  36. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'll link it for you. I flew in and out of there when I lived in Denver so I'm know how important local knowledge can be.

     
  37. Spencer Hamons

    Spencer Hamons Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you, I appreciate that. We had another accident out here a couple of months ago, what is what prompted me to create the video. Yesterday, we had another close-call - so that motivated me to see what popped-to-the-top of a Google search and this thread came up. Feel free to pass the link along to anyone, or any place on the site you think it could be useful to others. Appreciate you linking this.

    Spencer
     
    flightwriter and overdrive148 like this.
  38. Old97

    Old97 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Isnt Taos much easier to get in and out of? You are not in a bowl, right?
     
  39. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It is truly one of the most challenging airports in the country. Strong prevailing west winds over mountains (I use whitewater rapids as my example rather than god's bucket) with a necessary north-south orientation would make any airport a challenge but add in the high density altitude and high terrain into the mix and you really have to know what you are doing.

    Not covered in the video, but with the prevailing west wind and the terrain to the east, do the locals make a left or right downwind departure when taking off from 17 and heading north?
     
  40. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Taos is a piece of cake.