Investigation Continues At Wreckage Found Monday
ANN REALTIME UPDATE
03.11.09 1245 MDT (UPDATED 1745 MDT): The investigation
into why a small, single-engine aircraft crashed in the East
Mountain region of central New Mexico early Monday was complicated
by unverified reports a second aircraft, that reportedly took off
at around the same time from a residential airpark near
Edgewood, is also unaccounted for.
During its noontime newscast, KOB-4 reported two aircraft
departed from Sandia Airpark Estates East (1N1) at approximately
5:30 am local time Monday. One plane crashed soon after
-- about 11 nautical miles from the airport, in reported heavy
snow conditions -- claiming the lives of the two men onboard.
Officials stated both occupants of that plane were commuters
heading to their jobs in Los Alamos, about 50 nm from Edgewood. One
victim has been tentatively identified as Randy Rupert, owner of a
two-seat Grumman AA-1B.
Late Monday, local media reports stated Rupert was one of four
people who regularly commuted by air from 1N1 to their jobs in Los
Alamos. Initial reports indicated the two others in that group
opted to drive to Los Alamos instead on Monday, due to the wintry
conditions; it is not known whether those people are now believed
to have been on the aircraft said to be missing... or if that
plane actually is missing.
ANN will continue to follow this story as it progresses. Stay
EDT: Two men reportedly flying to their jobs at
Los Alamos National Laboratories in northern New Mexico were killed
Monday when their aircraft crashed in wintry conditions about 20
miles ENE of Albuquerque.
KRQE-13 reports the aircraft, type unreported, impacted terrain
near the intersection of New Mexico highways 14 and 344, south of
the community of Golden in the foothills of the San Pedro
Deputies with the New Mexico State Patrol say the aircraft
departed Edgewood, NM bound for Los Alamos. No flight plan was
filed, but officials said the occupants regularly commuted to
their jobs at LANL. Residents in the area said they often heard the
aircraft fly overhead in the early morning hours.
After two months of severe drought conditions, many areas of
central New Mexico received the first measurable precipitation of
the year Monday morning. Heavy snow was falling and ceilings were
low in the area when the accident occurred, according to officials,
who added the plane may have been turning back towards the
origination point when it crashed.
KOAT-7 identified the pilot as Randy Rupert. FAA records show a
1971 Grumman AA-1B Trainer registered to a Randal Rupert, with
an Edgewood address. Officials have not released the identity of
The aircraft reportedly departed Sandia Airpark Estates East
(1N1), on a northerly course to Los Alamos Municipal Airport (LAM).
The accident site lies directly along that path, approximately 11
nautical miles from 1N1.
A witness called police just after 6:00 am MDT to report a
possible forest fire; crews were on scene within the hour, and
found the charred wreckage of a small single-engine aircraft. The
plane's N-number and other identifying characteristics were
rendered unrecognizable by the wreckage and post-impact fire.
"It's pretty clear that the airplane crashed pretty abruptly.
There's a small scene, there was a fire, and the remains of the
airplane are pretty charred," Department of Public Safety spokesman
Peter Olsen told KOAT-7.