Accident Piper PA-34-200 Seneca N4980T, Sunday 17 February 1974
ASN logo
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Date:Sunday 17 February 1974
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: Destroyed
Location:1.5 miles SW of Taos Municipal Airport, Taos, New Mexico -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Departure airport:San Antonio International Airport, Texas (SAT/KSAT)
Destination airport:Taos Municipal Airport, Taos, New Mexico (SKX/KSKX)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
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

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: DEN74AD040
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report


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

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]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2024 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314