ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 132933
Last updated: 30 September 2020
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Type:Silhouette image of generic P28R model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Piper PA-28R-200
Owner/operator:LeTourneau University Texas
Registration: N1480X
C/n / msn: 28R-7535288
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Pagosa Springs, Colorado -   United States of America
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Departure airport:PGA
Destination airport:ALS
Investigating agency: NTSB

On October 1, 1994, at 1420 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA-28R-200, N1480X, was destroyed while maneuvering to reverse flight direction near Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The airline transport rated pilot/flight instructor and the two private pilots received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross country mountain flying instructional flight.

During interviews and on the enclosed statements the operator and flight instructor reported the information in this paragraph. The flight originally departed the Le Tourneau University Flight School on September 29, 1994, at Longview, Texas, for a cross country flight to Palm Springs, California. The two private pilots were enrolled in Le Tourneau University Title 14 CFR Part 141 professional pilot course and were building cross country flight time toward their commercial certification. On the return flight, routing was planned through Colorado for the mountain portion of the course curriculum.

On October 1, 1994, the flight departed Page, Arizona, for Salida, Colorado. The private pilot and flight instructor evaluated the in flight weather and amended the flight plan for a more southerly route with a destination change to Alamosa, Colorado. The amended route was to follow the road from Pagosa Springs, Colorado, over Wolf Creek Pass, to Alamosa. As the flight continued, they realized a selection of the "wrong road" and the flight instructor made the decision for a turn-around at about 2,500 feet above ground level according to the enclosed statement. This was the flight instructor's second demonstration for the day on how to do a 180 degree turn around procedure in a box canyon environment. The flaps were fully extended prior to turning the airplane. The instructor turned the airplane to the "right side of the canyon (south) and then began the turn back towards the left in a bank of approximately 35 degrees." The flight instructor stated that "near the completion of the turn, we experienced a severe unexpected downdraft" with a resulting rate of descent of "6,000 FPM" and the airplane hit the trees.


Flight Instructor records from the school and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) indicated that he was designated as the chief flight instructor on August 24, 1989. The designation included a standardization flight in the PA-28R-200. On February 13, 1994, the flight instructor satisfactorily completed an AOPA Air Safety Foundation flight instructor refresher clinic and an FAA surveillance on July 21, 1995.

During interviews, school personnel stated that the mountain flying curriculum route, with a departure from Longview, Texas, included Alexander Airport, Salida, Colorado; Buena Vista Airport, Buena Vista, Colorado; and Lake County Airport, Leadville, Colorado, with the highest elevation at 9,927 feet. The school curriculum does not specify a minimum altitude in mountainous terrain. They reported that the flight instructor had made numerous flights along this route; however, "this was the instructor's first trip crossing the continental divide through the canyon at Elwood Pass" an elevation of 11,875 feet.


A review of the enclosed weather data revealed the information in this paragraph. Winds aloft throughout the area from 9,000 feet MSL through 18,000 MSL feet were from the southwest at 15 to 24 knots. Temperature aloft was 35 degrees Fahrenheit with a surface temperature at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The calculated density altitude at the accident elevation of 11,400 feet was 14,000 feet. Airmets for the area included occasional mountain obscurement (clouds, precipitation, and fog) and moderate turbulence throughout Colorado. An airmet for occasional moderate mixed icing in clouds and precipitation between 12,000 feet MSL and FL200 was valid. VFR flight was not recommended.


The airplane came to rest on a measured magnetic heading of 040 degrees at an elevation of 11,400 feet MSL on the north slope of the canyon with the highest peak along the continental divide at 12,654 feet. Trees, on a measured magnetic heading of 010 degrees, along the 35 degree upslope of the canyon had their upper trunk areas separated and lying on the ground. The cockpit and cabin area remained intact. The outboard section of the left wing separated from the airframe and the leading edge of both wings was crushed aft toward the main spar. Both fuel tanks were compromised and engine mounts separated. One propeller blade was twisted and bent aft. See the enclosed wreckage diagram for additional details.

Flight control continuity was confirmed. Physical evidence of fuel was present at the site, fuel was present on the engine driven output side of the fuel pump, and the fuel selector was "ON" the right fuel tank. Engine continuity was confirmed


1. NTSB Identification: FTW95FA002 at
2. FAA:

Revision history:

12-Apr-2016 18:52 Dr.John Smith Updated [Operator, Location, Narrative]
12-Apr-2016 18:55 Dr.John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
21-Dec-2016 19:25 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description