Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Medical Event: Piper PA-22-150, N3664Z; fatal accident occurred August 09, 2017 near San Miguel Ranch Airport (NM53), Las Vegas, San Miguel County, New Mexico

Mike Shaver, 70, of Pine Mountain Lake, pictured inside the cockpit of a Piper PA-22-150P at Outlaw Field in Clarksville, Tennessee, days before he died after crashing in rural New Mexico on August 9th, 2017. Steve Wilson (yellow shirt), a certified flight instructor, flew with Shaver for about an hour on August 3rd, 2017 while testing the plane. 

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Albuquerque, New Mexico

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


Location: Las Vegas, NM
Accident Number: CEN17FA315
Date & Time: 08/09/2017, 1025 MDT
Registration: N3664Z
Aircraft: PIPER PA 22-150
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Miscellaneous/other
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


The private pilot departed on a cross-country flight in day visual meteorological conditions. When he did not arrive at his destination as planned, a search was initiated, and the airplane was subsequently located in wooded, mountainous terrain near a private airport about 73 miles short of the destination. The orientation of the wreckage was consistent with the airplane impacting terrain following an aerodynamic stall. Examination of the airplane and engine did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation, and there was evidence of fuel at the accident site.

The pilot was not in contact with air traffic control during the flight. Radar information showed the airplane maneuvering near the airport before radar contact was lost; the pilot may have been attempting to divert to the airport when the accident occurred. An autopsy of the pilot revealed severe coronary artery disease with 90% stenosis of the left coronary artery as well as evidence of scarring from a previous heart attack. Each of these conditions placed the pilot at significantly increased risk for the sudden development of symptoms from an acute cardiac event, which may have led him to divert. It is likely that, while maneuvering for landing, the pilot was either impaired or incapacitated by the symptoms of an acute cardiac event, which subsequently resulted in a loss of control.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's impairment or incapacitation by symptoms of an acute cardiac event, which resulted in a loss of control.


Personnel issues
Cardiovascular - Pilot (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Medical event (Defining event)
Aerodynamic stall/spin

Uncontrolled descent
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT) 

On August 9, 2017, about 1025 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA-22-150 airplane, N3664Z, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Las Vegas, New Mexico. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was privately owned and was operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed Dalhart Municipal Airport (DHT), Dalhart, Texas, at 0640, and was en route to Santa Fe Municipal Airport (SAF), Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The pilot had recently purchased the accident airplane and took possession of it in Tennessee. On August 3 and 4, the pilot received 1.5 hours of local instruction in the accident airplane. According to personnel at the DHT fixed base operator, the pilot departed DHT for SAF the day before the accident but returned due to weather. The pilot again departed for SAF the morning of the accident.

The pilot was not in contact with air traffic control during the flight; however, a search of radar data found targets correlated to the accident airplane. The data captured the airplane as it departed from DHT and flew southwest until it passed Obar, New Mexico, when it turned west. After passing Bell Ranch, New Mexico, the airplane continued west, then northwest. The airplane made several large s-turns and flew east of San Miguel Ranch Airport (NM53) before turning north and continuing a right turn until radar contact was lost. The last radar return was about 1.4 miles southwest of runway 4 at NM53. A search was initiated after the airplane was reported overdue, and the wreckage was located on August 11.

Mike Shaver 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 70, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None 
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: BasicMed
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 05/22/2017
Flight Time: (Estimated) 344.9 hours (Total, all aircraft), 19.1 hours (Total, this make and model), 10.1 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 10.1 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft) 

The pilot's logbook was found in the wreckage. His most recent flight review was completed on May 22, 2017, in a Cessna 172. The pilot did not hold a current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical certificate and was operating under the provisions of BasicMed. His most recent BasicMed medical examination was conducted on May 9, 2017. The pilot's previous FAA medical certificate was issued on May 17, 2012.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: PIPER
Registration: N3664Z 
Model/Series: PA 22-150 160
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1960
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 22-7562
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/03/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2495.66 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed, activated, aided in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-320-A2B
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 150 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

A review of the airplane's logbooks did not find any record of significant maintenance issues. Notes found in the wreckage indicated that the pilot departed on the accident flight with full fuel at a tachometer time of 2509.08 hours. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KLVS, 6874 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 29 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1005 MDT
Direction from Accident Site: 291°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 1100 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 9 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None /
Wind Direction: 210°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 30.32 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 15°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: DALHART, TX (DHT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: SANTA FE, NM (SAF)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0640 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

No significant weather was recorded in the vicinity of the accident.

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 6300 ft
Runway Surface Condition:
Runway Used: 04
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5600 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None 

NM53 was a private airfield located about 73 miles west of SAF and had no services available. 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 35.486944, -104.593611 

The wreckage came to rest inverted in a wooded area in mountainous terrain. Portions of the right wing suspended in a tree; near the tree's base was a small crater filled with rain water, and the airplane's propeller was located in the crater. Areas of the cockpit contained an odor of fuel.

Examination of the flight controls did not identify any preimpact anomalies. Both propeller blades displayed leading edge damage and polishing. One blade displayed s-bending and curling, and its leading edge displayed gouges and deformation.

The airplane was recovered to a secure facility in Phoenix, Arizona. An examination of the engine did not reveal any preimpact anomalies. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The State of New Mexico, Office of the Medical Investigator, Albuquerque, New Mexico, performed an autopsy of the pilot. The pilot's heart was enlarged and weighed 470 grams (average heart weight given the pilot's weight is 387 grams) with mild four chamber dilation. The proximal left anterior descending coronary artery had 90% stenosis, and both the circumflex and right coronary arteries had 50% stenosis. Fibrosis was identified on the left ventricular free wall. Left concentric ventricular hypertrophy was mentioned, but the recorded wall thicknesses were average. Microscopy demonstrated a focus of increased fibrosis with cardiac myocyte dropout consistent with a scar. The remaining heart had increased interstitial and perivascular fibrosis. Due to the severity of injuries, a detailed examination of the brain could not be conducted. The autopsy noted chemical burns on the pilot consistent with exposure to aviation fuel. The report listed the cause of death as blunt force injuries.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens of the pilot. Testing identified ethanol at 0.151 gm/hg in muscle, and 0.037 gm/hg in liver tissue. Another alcohol commonly produced in tissues after death, N-propanol, was detected in muscle. In addition, metoprolol was found in lung and muscle. Specimens were marked as putrefied.

Ethanol is the intoxicant commonly found in beer, wine, and liquor. It acts as a central nervous system depressant. Because ingested alcohol is distributed throughout the body, levels from different postmortem tissues are usually similar. Ethanol may also be produced in body tissues by microbial activity after death. In these cases, levels among different tissues tend to vary considerably. The alcohol levels in the pilot's tissues are consistent with postmortem production.

Metoprolol, doxazosin, and losartan were found among the pilot's belongings at the accident site. Metoprolol is a blood pressure medication that can also help prevent recurrent heart attacks. It is not generally considered impairing and is commonly sold with the names Lopressor and Toprol.   Doxazosin and losartan were not detected in the toxicology. Both medications are used in the treatment of high blood pressure.
Mike Shaver, 70, of Pine Mountain Lake, pictured inside the cockpit of a Piper PA-22-150P at Outlaw Field in Clarksville, Tennessee, days before he died after crashing in rural New Mexico on August 9th, 2017. Steve Wilson (yellow shirt), a certified flight instructor, flew with Shaver for about an hour on August 3rd, 2017 while testing the plane. 

Federal authorities are investigating a fatal plane crash that claimed the life of a Pine Mountain Lake man earlier this month in a remote part of northeastern New Mexico.

Mike Shaver, 70, husband of retired Tuolumne County Superior Court Judge Eleanor Provost, was the pilot of the PA-22 Tri-Pacer that went missing Aug. 9. Provost said searchers discovered the wreckage on Aug. 13 near a private runway in Trementina, about 120 miles east of Albuquerque.

“He was just the man of my dreams,” said Provost, who turned 70 on Tuesday. “I truly never met a man I’ve loved so much.”

Shaver was an experienced pilot who had been flying airplanes for nearly 40 years, Provost said.

Provost said she drove Shaver to Sacramento International Airport on Aug. 2 for a commercial flight to Tennessee where he was traveling to purchase a PA-22 Tri-Pacer to replace the one he owned that was in need of extensive repairs.

“It was a gorgeous plane and exactly like the one we had, so it’s not like he needed to learn how to fly it,” Provost said.

After arriving in Clarksville, Tennessee, Shaver spent a day testing the plane and started his 1,600-mile journey back to California on Aug. 4. Provost said he would call her once a day at nighttime.

Shaver had flown 400 miles when he called Provost to give her his nightly update on Aug. 4. However, he began to encounter bad weather that slowed his progress in the ensuing days.

Each day, Provost said the amount of miles he flew got less and less due to the weather. She said he even had to sleep inside his plane one night because it was raining and the place he landed didn’t have a pilot’s lounge.

Provost said Shaver reached Dalhart, Texas, and planned on flying to Sante Fe, New Mexico, in his last update to her on the night of Aug. 8.

“When I didn’t get a call Wednesday night, I started to worry a little bit,” Provost said.

After not receiving a call from Shaver or being able to reach him for two days, Provost said mutual friends called the Federal Aviation Administration for her on Aug. 12 to report the plane missing.

Shaver was found dead inside the wreckage of the plane in the early morning hours on Aug. 13, Provost said.

The New Mexico state trooper who retrieved Shaver’s body called Provost several days later and told her that he was certain the cause of the crash was weather related.

Provost said she read news articles on the Internet that warned of funnel clouds in the area of the crash site around the time he went missing.

“He tried to land and either got hit by wind or a wind tunnel, but we don’t yet,” Provost said. “He got thrown off the taxiway and the latest I heard is that the plane actually turned over.”

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board have launched an investigation into the cause of the crash as they do with all plane crashes.

Paul Knudson, spokesman for the NTSB, said a preliminary report on the crash is expected to be filed either later this week or early next week. Elizabeth Cory, spokeswoman for the FAA, said investigations can take a year or more to complete.

Robert Eley, of Clarksville, said the plane previously belonged to Jim Passalacqua, whom he shared an airplane hangar with for 15 years before Passalacqua died of an illness last year. Eley said he was selling the plane at the request of Passalacqua’s wife.

Passalacqua had flown the plane from Tennessee to California several times prior his death, Eley said.

Eley said that Shaver requested to test the plane with a local certified flight instructor before the purchase because it had been several years since he last flew a Tri-Pacer, though he many hours of experience.

Shaver flew with the instructor, Steve Wilson, for about an hour and felt confident that he would be fine making the trip back to California. Provost said her husband was a studious pilot and not a risk taker.

Eley said bad weather prevented Shaver from starting his journey on the morning of Aug. 4, so he spent several hours flying around Outlaw Field in Clarksville until it cleared up.

Paul Purifoy, a friend of Shaver’s who is also a pilot and lives in Pine Mountain Lake, said he and Jerry Baker, who was also a friend of Shaver’s, made the decision to call the FAA when they didn’t hear from him for days.

“As pilots, we were kind of wincing,” Purifoy said. “We checked his credit cards because he has to buy fuel. I said, ‘Look at this point, I hope that he is OK but we have to call the FAA and get them involved.’ “

Purifoy said he was also the one who notified Provost of her husband’s death.

Shaver was an expert mechanic who was known for restoring 1930s-era airplanes, Purifoy said, adding that there was also no questioning Shaver’s capabilities as a pilot.

“Mike always had something going on,” Purifoy said of Shaver’s many projects. “You’ll miss him in the neighborhood because he won’t be calling you for help to give him a hand with something he’s working on.”

Purifoy said people in the PML community, which includes many pilots who have homes with hangars right next to the runway, were surprised at the news of Shaver’s death.

“You never expect your neighbor to die in a crash,” Purifoy said in a telephone interview while helping Provost go through Shaver’s hangar on Wednesday. “It’s very devastating, to say the least.”

Shaver was a veteran of the Marine Corps who served in Vietnam as an airplane mechanic.

After the military, Shaver went on to have a nearly 30-year career working as an airplane mechanic for major airlines. He retired around the time American Airlines merged with TWA in 2001.

Shaver owned a business restoring antique planes in St. Lous, Missouri, until he moved to California after getting divorced from his first wife. He moved to Tuolumne County with a dream of one day owning a home with an airplane hangar in PML.

In 2002, Shaver and Provost met at a party and hit it off. Provost described him as having somewhat of a stern demeanor and wasn’t one to suffer fools gladly, which she liked.

“I don’t put up with idiots very well, but I learned as a judge you have to put up with a certain amount of idiots,” Provost said. “He doesn’t put up with idiots. He doesn’t put up with people who think they’re better. If they didn’t like him, he didn’t care. He just went on to people who did.”

The pair pooled their money in 2004 to purchase a lot in PML where they spent the next four years building Shaver’s dream home that included a 7,500-square-foot hangar.

Shaver would occasionally fly Provost from their home to Columbia Airport, where she would leave her car and drive into Tuolumne County Superior Court in downtown Sonora for work.

“That was very fun,” Provost said. “It makes a huge difference because it would take us something like 15 minutes to fly and 45 minutes to drive.”

They would also make yearly pilgrimages to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, one of the largest airplane shows of its kind in the world. Shaver spent 28 years volunteering to judge antique airplanes at the event.

After dating for 16 years, Provost said the two decided to tie the knot in January 2016.

Provost said she’s grateful for the outpouring of support she’s received from friends, some of whom took her to dinner for her 70th birthday Tuesday night at the restaurant she had planned to go with her husband.

“Something so amazing and wonderful to me that I already knew is there are a heck of a lot of people who thought highly of him,” Provost said. “That’s the Mikey I knew.”


Mike Shaver was born in Peoria, Illinois, on Oct. 19, 1946. He grew up on a family farm. After he finished high school he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in Viet Nam working on airplanes for a year and a half. He was sent home because of a family emergency after his father died. He helped his mother take care of his brother who had a severe case of Down’s syndrome. He did both construction work and farming.

After a year of college he went to A&P School and became an airplane mechanic for Ozark Airlines which later merged with TWA. When it was about to merge again, this time with American Airlines, he retired and ran his own restoration business in St. Louis until he moved to California. Mike volunteered at Oshkosh, the largest airplane show in the Western Hemisphere and maybe the world. There he judged the antique airplanes with a group of about 10 for the past 28 years.

Mike was an active Rotarian for many years volunteering his time and energy to various community projects including one of the club's largest undertaking, the building of the bathroom at the Little League Baseball Field in Big Oak Flat. Mike was an excellent craftsman and when the Rotary club began their annual shrimp feast Mike donated the material and constructed the large cooking pots for the event that are still in use today.

When he first started living at the Pine Mountain Airport he met and later married Judge Eleanor Provost. They built a hangar/house on the back taxiway.

Mike went to Tennessee to pick up an airplane that he purchased. On Aug. 9, 2017, he went missing and was later found by search and rescue at the crash site in Trementina, New Mexico. It is believed at this time that bad weather was the cause of this fatal accident.

Mike is survived by his loving wife, Eleanor; and three children from a previous marriage. He will be missed by Eleanor's family, many friends and the Pine Mountain Lake Aviation Association.

NTSB Identification: CEN17FA315 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 09, 2017 in Las Vegas, NM
Aircraft: PIPER PA 22-150, registration: N3664Z
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 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.

On August 9, 2017, about 1025 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA-23-150 airplane, N3664Z, impacted terrain near Las Vegas, New Mexico. The private pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The cross-country flight departed Dalhart, Texas, and was en route to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The airplane was reported overdue and a search was conducted. The wreckage was located in mountainous terrain on August 13. Impact signatures were consistent with the airplane striking trees before impacting terrain. The right wing was separated from the airplane and wrapped around a large tree. The remainder of the wreckage came to inverted. The airplane was retained for further examination.

Sunday, New Mexico State Police, in conjunction with Search and Rescue, located a downed aircraft north of State Road 104, near Trementina, in eastern San Miguel County. An elderly man was found deceased inside.

Saturday evening, around 9 p.m., a Federal Notice to Airmen management system employee notified the New Mexico State Police of a possible downed aircraft in San Miguel County.  The plane had departed from Texas three or four days prior. A family member of the pilot contacted NOTAM because the pilot had not checked in with the family.

GPS coordinates placed the aircraft near a private runway in a rural location of San Miguel County. A representative from the United States Air Force Rescue Coordination Center reported it appeared the plane crashed near the runway.

A search and rescue mission was promptly initiated, but the plane wreckage wasn’t located until around 11 a.m. Sunday in a rugged mountainous area, roughly a mile from the runway.  

The Office of the Medical Investigator is still working to identify the deceased. 

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause of the crash.


  1. I believe the pilot is Michael Daniel Shaver of Groveland CA.
    He was an experience AP & IA and had worked on my airplane many times.
    Great loss - will miss him - RIP.

  2. Rest in peace Mr. Shaver.
    Fly Well!
    Until we meet again....