Friday, July 24, 2020

Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche, N8488Y: Accident occurred July 15, 2020 in Vaughn, Guadalupe County, New Mexico

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. 

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tailwind Society LLC

Location: Vaughn, NM
Accident Number: WPR20LA223
Date & Time: 07/15/2020, 1115 MDT
Registration: N8488Y
Aircraft: Piper PA 30
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On July 15, 2020, at 1115 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA-30 (Twin Comanche) airplane, N8488Y, sustained substantial damage when it was involved in an accident near Vaughn, New Mexico. The pilot and passenger were not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot stated that the airplane fuel tanks were topped off to full capacity (90 gallons) the day before the accident. After an uneventful takeoff, the pilot proceeded to his destination. About 3 hours and 15 minutes into the flight, with the airplane cruising at 8,500 feet mean sea level (msl), the right engine surged twice and subsequently quit producing power. The airplane was unable to maintain altitude and there were no airports close. The pilot notified an Air Traffic Controller that he was making an off-airport emergency landing. The airplane touched down on desert terrain (about 6,300 ft msl) and during the landing roll, the right wing collided with a fence.

The pilot reported that the airplane's single engine service ceiling at the gross weight of 3,600 lbs, was 5,800 feet msl; the single-engine absolute ceiling was 7,100 ft msl. He further stated that the airplane was burning about 17 gallons per hour.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N8488Y
Model/Series: PA 30 No Series
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCQC, 7086 ft msl
Observation Time: 1653 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 33 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C / 6°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 12 knots / , 330°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.32 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Austin, TX (KAUS)
Destination: Santa Fe, NM (SAF)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:1 None
Aircraft Fire:None
Ground Injuries:N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 34.598333, -105.198611

VAUGHN, New Mexico — New Mexico State Police responded to a report of a downed aircraft Wednesday morning. Authorities said the small plane was found in an open field south of Vaughn, New Mexico.

The pilot and his wife, both in their 70s, were found uninjured and safe. According to the Vaughn Fire Chief, the pair said the plane was experiencing engine failure. The experienced pilot did not activate the landing gear – which allowed them to slide safely.

The couple said they were flying from Austin to Santa Fe. 

Officials said there was some damage to the plane, but no fire.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been notified and will take over the investigation.


  1. Fuel starvation, exhaustion y’all??

    1. He was on the return path of the same trip from the day before, so unless headwind difference, same trip. Did a turn back at the end, looks like he might have been trying to reach the ranchers private strip they had passed, but came up short.
      Day before:

      Last ADS-B recorded:
      Ranchers strip:

  2. depending on the density altitude, gross weight, etc., if you loose an engine in a Twin-Comanche you might be better off putting it down under control rather risk a VMC accident if there were no suitable airports nearby.

  3. I heard N8488Y on frequency while flying near Albuquerque headed to Colorado. He told Albuquerque App he lost his right engine, however he was not declaring an emergency. Then shortly after, N8488Y called Albuquerque App but he got no reply back. Assuming he was too low for App to hear. Glad to hear he made it down safely.