Fatal TBM 700 Accident Occurs In Front of Wedding Party

FAA records show that the 1996 Socata TBM 700 was registered just nine days before it left Gadsden, Alabama, on a flight to Montrose, Colorado, on Saturday. It crashed into a reservoir about 25 miles from the destination airport. The turboprop single was registered to an Alabama LLC, and made a fuel stop in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, before continuing the trip to Colorado. The NTSB briefed reporters that the pilot told air traffic controllers the airplane was in a spin; then communications broke off. The so-far unidentified pilot and four passengers (two of elementary school age, according to ABC News) have yet to be recovered and are presumed to be contained in the main wreckage, which sank in water that is 60 to 90 feet deep.

According to reports, the turboprop single hit the water about 90 feet from shore, in full view of a wedding party gathered nearby. Several witnesses described the TBM as emerging from a low, thick overcast and spinning. So far, only the tail has been recovered, though it was not clear if it separated from the main wreckage before or after impact. At press time, divers had not been able to reach the main wreckage, due to heavy silt in the reservoir in Ridgway State Park in southeastern Colorado. They used sonar to locate the airplane, and have brought in a remote control underwater robot to aid in the recovery operation.

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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