Sunday, February 21, 2021

Loss of Control in Flight: Cessna T210N Turbo Centurion, N64EM; fatal accident occurred August 26, 2020 near Meadow Lake Airport (KFLY), Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado

Dr. John Gordon Odell
February 5, 1974 August 26, 2020

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board
The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Denver, Colorado
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
McCauley Propellers; Wichita, Kansas
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Peyton, Colorado 
Accident Number: CEN20LA365
Date & Time: August 26, 2020, 11:37 Local 
Registration: N64EM
Aircraft: Cessna T210
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On August 26, 2020, about 1137 mountain daylight time, a Cessna T210N airplane, N64EM, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Peyton, Colorado. The pilot sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

About 1011, the pilot departed from Meadow Lake Airport (FLY), Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the City of Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (COS), Colorado Springs, Colorado, to have the airplane’s oxygen system serviced. About 1125, the airplane departed COS on a return flight to FLY.

A flight instructor who was providing instruction to a student pilot in a Cessna 150 airplane in the pattern at FLY stated that the accident airplane got in between the airplane he was in and another Cessna 150 airplane, which was trailing, for a landing on runway 33. The instructor felt that there was not much separation between the airplanes. The student pilot and instructor turned their airplane from the base leg onto final. The instructor thought the accident airplane had extended its downwind to make some room between the airplanes and also that the accident airplane slowed to make room because it was faster. The instructor indicated that the winds were blowing from east to west. After the student pilot and instructor landed their airplane, they heard that the accident airplane had crashed south of the runway.

The pilot in the trailing Cessna 150 airplane stated that the accident airplane entered on the downwind between his airplane and the other Cessna 150 airplane, which appeared to be significantly slower than the accident airplane. He stated that the accident airplane flew an extended downwind leg and that, while the accident airplane was turning final, it overshot the runway, increased its bank, and pitched up slightly. The airplane then impacted terrain and nosed over. The pilot observed a “puff” of white smoke, a “huge fireball,” and black smoke. The pilot said that the accident pilot had made all “proper” radio calls, including the final turn.

The trailing pilot’s account of the events was consistent with a video playback of radar data. 

A witness near the accident site said he saw the accident airplane’s wings “wiggle” and that he thought that the airplane was going to crash. He estimated the airplane was about 30 to 50 ft above the ground when it nosed down, stalled, and dropped “straight” in, impacting terrain. He also stated that he did not hear any engine sounds. There was no fire or smoke from the airplane when it was in the air. The nose landing gear separated on impact, and the airplane slid on the ground and subsequently caught on fire.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 46,Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: December 2, 2019
Occupational Pilot: No 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: (Estimated) 207 hours (Total, all aircraft)

The pilot was given a notice of disapproval after his initial attempt at a private pilot examination. According to a flight instructor who subsequently endorsed the pilot’s private pilot retest, the pilot’s areas of deficiency were soft field takeoffs and short field landings. The instructor gave the pilot four additional instructional flights totaling 8.1 hours of flight time. The pilot satisfactorily passed the retesting for his private pilot certificate on October 21, 2016. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N64EM
Model/Series: T210 N
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1978
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal 
Serial Number: 21063032
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle 
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: Annual 
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 4000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: Installed 
Engine Model/Series: TSIO-520-R
Registered Owner:
Rated Power: 310
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

According to a mechanic who performed maintenance on the accident airplane, the engine exhibited low cylinder compression readings during an annual inspection on October 1, 2019, and the cylinders were replaced. The mechanic subsequently flew in the airplane for about 25 minutes with the pilot to “seat the new rings.” He reported that the pilot used a checklist for the takeoff and that the takeoff and landing were “normal.” However, he did advise the pilot to use flaps.

A fuel service receipt showed the accident airplane was fueled on the day of the accident about 0945 with 53.34 gallons of 100 low-lead aviation gasoline. The airplane was equipped with two 45-gallon fuel tanks, which had a total capacity of 90 gallons, of which 89 gallons was usable. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC) 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KFLY,6877 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 11:35 Local 
Direction from Accident Site: 340°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Visibility 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 10 knots / 16 knots 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:  /
Wind Direction: 360° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:  /
Altimeter Setting: 30.18 inches Hg 
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 1°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Colorado Springs, CO (COS)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Peyton, CO (FLY)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 11:25 Local 
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 6877 ft msl
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 33 
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 6000 ft / 60 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full stop

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 38.920276,-104.55805(est)

The wreckage was located about 1 mile southeast of runway 33. The left wing, left elevator, and sections of the fuselage were melted, deformed, and discolored consistent with ground fire. The outboard section of the right wing did not exhibit the same extent of thermal deformation and discoloration as the left wing. The fuel tank selector was found selecting the right tank. The propeller hub remained attached to the engine. The propeller blade that remained attached to the hub exhibited melting, deformation, and discoloration. Two propeller blades had separated from the propeller hub, and outboard sections of those blades exhibited chordwise abrasion. The flap jack screw extension was consistent with retracted flaps.

Subsequent airframe and engine examinations were conducted. No preimpact anomalies were found that would have prevented normal operation of the airplane.

Medical and Pathological Information

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the El Paso County Coroner and toxicological samples were taken. The cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. Ibuprofen (Motrin) was detected on the autopsy toxicology and is not disqualifying for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical certification. FAA toxicology did not detect ethanol, drugs of abuse, or carboxyhemoglobin.


  1. The mechanic's foreshadowing comment is noted. Why would you try to slowly fly a 210 in between two 150's without using your flaps for safety and maneuvering?

    1. Well where the hell else are they supposed to train? In rural areas with no paved runway? And a 210 can be flown in the pattern with other "slower" aircraft just fine if it is flown correctly. Which clearly here it was NOT. Stupid ignorant comment.

    2. ^^Aaaah! Wrong reply button! Meant for Cybercraig below. Sorry.

  2. Damn 150s. Too slow for anything except training and joy-flying. Might as well have a balsa wood plane with rubber band propulsion.

    1. Dang, maybe that’s what those 150s were doing. Training

    2. @Cybercraig - see my above reply to Colin meant for you.

    3. Not every pilot can afford to fly a Cessna T210N Turbo Centurion.

    4. "Damn 150s. Too slow for anything except training and joy-flying. Might as well have a balsa wood plane with rubber band propulsion."

      The 150 IS A TRAINER, genius. Got any other words of wisdom? Water is wet? Nighttime is dark?

  3. Well, not a lot of time in a relatively hot aircraft that he seemed like he didn't really operate skillfully and by the book. Inserting himself between two dissimilar aircraft was a bad and dangerous decision. Then he made a classic fatal flaw on final. Not surprised to see he was a doctor.

  4. Too bad. August in Colorado, full of fuel and had to be reminded to use flaps. Sometimes you wish pilots would stay alive long enough to learn to fly.

  5. And the "doctor killer" badge of the 210 (among several other high performance piston GA aircraft like the Bonanza) keeps on proving the stereotype.

  6. The accident site +038.920236 -104.559377 is exactly a straight line to rwy 33s threshold, approx a 1.25 mile distance. Thus it appears he was on his long final; yet why just barely above the ground.
    Maybe a foolish thought, did he mistake the road as rwy 33?
    A witness near the accident site said he saw the accident airplane’s wings “wiggle” and that he thought that the airplane was going to crash. He estimated the airplane was about 30 to 50 ft above the ground when it nosed down, stalled, and dropped “straight” in, impacting terrain.