Cirrus Crash Third In Five Weeks

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A Cirrus SR20 crashed November 3 on relatively flat terrain in a wildlife refuge near Las Vegas, N.M., killing Ralph Steenson, the aircraft's non-instrument-rated private pilot and sole occupant.  Local METAR observations reported a 500-foot ceiling, and initial police teletype reports noted heavy fog and mist at the crash site. There were no witnesses. Lt. Tom Meserve, state police, Las Vegas, N.M., told AVweb, "I've been to other crashes ... this guy didn't spiral in. He glanced off the ground and then the thing started cart-wheeling." He also said the debris field was more than 800 feet long and 300 feet wide. Bill King, Cirrus vice president of business administration, told AVweb that Steenson, 75, had taken Cirrus' training / transition course. Steenson's daughter Brenda told The Forum that her father began flying in the early 1950s. The FAA's airman database lists Steenson's private pilot certificate date of issuance as 01/29/2001. Steenson's daughter said "... he called midway through the flight. He said it was a beautiful day and a great day." The accident is the third within the past five weeks for Cirrus models. October 3, a pilot used the aircraft's parachute after an aileron became partially detached and on October 15 a Cirrus hit a deer.