One December airplane crash a couple of miles north of Culebra Peak had a happy ending. A pilot from Amarillo, Texas, had always wanted to fly into Leadville, Colorado, which at 9,927 feet msl has the highest public airport in North America. On Christmas Eve a few years ago, he set out in his 85 hp Luscombe and made it into Leadville. On Christmas Day, he started home, winging south along the San Luis Valley and then southeast into the rugged Culebra Range. Cold, ropey, gray stratus clouds brooded over the valley and 30-knot surface winds siphoned across it from east to west, an atypical pattern. At about 11:30 a.m., flying upwind toward the east, the pilot approached the 12,560-foot Whiskey Pass.