PECOS, TX — A 1980 Mooney M20K 231 crash landed in Interstate 20 near Pecos Wednesday evening. According to the Reeves County Sheriff, the pilot of the single engine piston plane told officials he experienced catastrophic engine failure.
The Mooney was flying from Austin Executive Airport in Round Rock to El Paso when the incident happened. According to the flight track on Flight Aware, the Mooney was flying at 15,000 feet and 220 mph when the engine started causing trouble forcing the pilot to descend for an emergency landing at Pecos Airport. The sheriff said by 10,000 feet, billowing smoke with oil splattering over the windshield forced the pilot to decide instead to land on I-20.
The pilot, Adam Streeter, 52, advised Albuquerque Air Traffic Control that he would be landing between a truck tractor pulling a semi-trailer and a dually pickup in the westbound lanes of I-20. The plane came to a full stop at about mile marker 42 on I-20, the sheriff said.
The Mooney M20K 231 was a follow-on plane to the wildly popular M20J 201 developed and sold by Kerrville's Mooney Aircraft International. The 231, called that for the plane's top speed in miles per hour, was a turbocharged answer to the Cessna T201 and the turbocharged Piper Arrow that were gaining marketshare at the time.
The 231 replaced the reliable Lycoming IO-360 200 hp engine in the M20J with a larger Continental IO-360 with 210 hp and a turbocharger. The larger cowling on the early M20K still wasn't roomy enough for the fixed waste gate turbocharger because it did not allow cooling the engine properly so the plane gained a bad reputation. Aftermarket modifications mitigated these problems, but Mooney didn't completely solve the problems with a factory version of its turbo Mooney until the production of the M20K TSE 252 in 1986. The newer Mooney featured a better-designed turbocharger with a variable waste gate. The 252 also had an improved version of the Continental engine installed.
The sheriff reported that the pilot was uninjured and no other vehicles were damaged during the emergency landing at around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.