Hawker Beechcraft King Air E90B, Ruidoso, N.M., Aug. 5, 2007–The NTSB determined the probable cause of the crash of the EMS King Air in the mountains was the pilot’s “failure to maintain clearance from terrain due to spatial disorientation.” The Southwest MedEvac airplane–carrying a pilot, flight nurse, paramedic, a 15-month-old patient and his mother, all of whom were killed–took off from Sierra Blanca Regional Airport, elevation 6,814 feet, made a left turn and disappeared. It hit a mountain at 6,860 feet four miles southeast of the airport. It was a dark night, but visual conditions prevailed. An IFR flight plan had been filed but not activated.
The pilot had only 23 hours in the accident airplane. He tested positive for chlorpheniramine, an over-the-counter antihistamine used to treat allergy and cold symptoms that impairs the taker, and acetaminophen (an OTC pain and fever reducer such as Tylenol, frequently combined with the chlorpheniramine). The Safety Board could not accurately estimate the time of last use, nor determine if the pilot was impaired during the flight. According to the regional flight surgeon for the FAA’s Southwest Region, “If the FAA had been made aware of this medication, the pilot would have been issued a warning not to fly within 12 hours of taking it.”