Fatal Flight, Las Cruces

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Robert Steinmetz, who was identified in the FAA's preliminary report as a "sport pilot," crashed his "Garniss STOL 701" high-wing (experimental aircraft are often registered by builder name followed by aircraft model) into a field near his home on the outskirts of Las Cruces, N.M., Dec. 15, killing himself and leaving family members as witnesses. Steinmetz had purchased the aircraft just two months prior to the accident. AVweb was unable to find a record of Steinmetz in the FAA's online airmen certification database and the aircraft's registration status as of Friday was also unavailable. According to the report, Steinmetz's daughters told the inspector that every time he flew, he would "buzz" his house and "wig wag" his wings. On this particular flight, he was wagging his wings when the left wing struck the ground and the airplane cartwheeled. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed.