This October 2008 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.
Aircraft: Maule MXT-7-180A. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Santa Teresa, N.M. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: Weather radar data showed a thunderstorm producing an approximate 60 knot wind shear in the vicinity of the airport. There was a SIGMET active for the accident location and time which warned of the possibility of severe thunderstorms. There was no evidence the pilot obtained a weather briefing prior to taking off.
Witnesses said the airplane taxied to a runway intersection and took off. The airplane headed directly towards an isolated thunderstorm located off the departure end of the runway. The airplane appeared to climb to 150 to 200 feet above the ground before disappearing into the storm. One witness stated that the airplane’s wings were rocking back and forth and that it appeared the pilot was having difficulty controlling the airplane just before it went out of view. After the storm passed the airport, smoke was seen west of the airport. The burning wreckage was found a mile from the airport.
Probable cause: The pilot’s decision to takeoff and fly into a thunderstorm.
For more information: NTSB.gov