Preliminary Report: Cheyenne dives after takeoff
PIPER PA-31T, HOBBS, N.M., OCT. 30, 2002–At approximately 7:33 a.m. MST the twin-turboprop Piper was destroyed when the pilot lost control shortly after takeoff in IMC. The sole-occupant instrument-rated private pilot was killed in the crash.
N3998Y was on its initial climbout after departing from Runway 3 at the Lea County Regional Airport (HOB) near Hobbs, N.M. The pilot was cleared to 9,000 ft, which
he acknowledged when passing through 4,900 ft, with the expectation of further clearance to 17,000 ft. The Part 91 flight was on an IFR flight plan to El Paso (Texas) International Airport (ELP).
When the aircraft reached 5,500 ft, air traffic controllers noticed that it began a descent, but the pilot did not respond to ATC radio calls. According to FAA files, the Piper Cheyenne was registered to Robert Calhoon of Hobbs, N.M. The weather was reported to be 700 ft overcast with three miles visibility in mist.