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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 13895
Last updated: 9 October 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic PA34 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Piper PA-34-200 Seneca
Owner/operator:Cleek Aviation Inc
Registration: N4980T
MSN: 34-7250192
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:1.5 miles SW of Taos Municipal Airport, Taos, New Mexico -   United States of America
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:San Antonio International Airport, Texas (SAT/KSAT)
Destination airport:Taos Municipal Airport, Taos, New Mexico (SKX/KSKX)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Written off (destroyed) February 17, 1974 when crashed at Taos, New Mexico (1.5 miles South-West of Taos Municipal Airport, near co ordinates 36.43 N, 105.68 W) after pilot continued VFR flight into adverse weather conditions. Per the NTSB report the pilot - the sole person on board -was killed by the crash impact due to the shoulder harness not being used. Aircraft originally posted as "missing" until wreckage located and recovered on February 20 1974 (three days later). According to a contemporary newspaper report dated February 21 1974, which reported on the discovery of the wreckage (see link #3)

Wreck of Missing Plane Found in TAOS; N.M. (AP) - Federal investigators were expected in the Taos area today to probe the wreckage of a twin engine Piper Seneca in which an Oklahoma pilot was found dead Wednesday. "We expect them early," said Taos County Under-sheriff Henry Pacheco. Pacheco and State Police Lt. Tommy Cantou said the crash site where Clifford Weichel, 36, of Clinton, Oklahoma, was found, was kept under security Wednesday night awaiting the arrival of Federal Aviation Administration investigators. "We've posted security at their request throughout the night." said Cantcu.

The wreckage of the white plane trimmed in red was spotted from the air Wednesday by the plane's owner, John Cleek of Clinton, who had joined the Civil Air Patrol and law enforcement officers in the search. The CAP began looking for the aircraft Monday morning. The last communication with the pilot was by the Santa Fe Airport tower at ll:25 p.m. Sunday.

Cantou said the plane crashed about 1.5 miles south-west of the Taos airport. The plane apparently approached the airport too low and hit the ground while proceeding east from the Rio Grande Gorge to the airport, Cantou said. He said that plane hit the ground and skidded on the prairie for 381 feet, resulting in extensive damage to the nose and under section.

The plane did not burn, he said. Airport manager Richard Gonzales said runway lights were on at the time the plane is believed to have crashed. "As far as we can tell, it was snowing Sunday night," Cantou said. He said Weichel was instrument rated and had a commercial pilot's license. Cantou said the reason the plane was not found earlier was because it was white, buried in the snow and hard to sight from the air.

The plane that finally found it made a 360-degree turn to back and re-spot it. but had trouble locating it again, he said. Cantou said the ground party that brought out the body had to use a four-wheel drive vehicle to get to the site. "1 went in with the crew." he said. "It was very muddy and snowy. There are no roads up there. We just had to go through the high sage brush".

Registration N4980T cancelled by the FAA on May 29, 1974


1. NTSB Identification: DEN74AD040 at
2. FAA:
3. February 21, 1974 The Gallup Independent from Gallup, New Mexico Page 21

Safety recommendations:

Safety recommendation A-75-50 issued 2 June 1975 by NTSB
Safety recommendation A-75-51 issued 2 June 1975 by NTSB to FAA

Revision history:

25-Feb-2008 12:00 ASN archive Added
27-Nov-2016 15:03 Dr. John Smith Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
27-Nov-2016 15:04 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
30-Nov-2016 13:38 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]

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