Pilot Carl Link, who recently moved to New Mexico from Missouri, was found dead in the plane, which crashed Wednesday afternoon in a remote area off Highway 26, also known as the Hatch Highway. He was found by a Radium Springs man hiking in the area.
The plane crashed into a small valley surrounded by hills near Cooke's Peak, about 20 miles northeast of Deming. No buildings were in the near vicinity of the downed plane, but cattle and a ranch are near the area.
The Associated Press reports that Federal Aviation Administration officials received a distress call from the pilot saying he was losing his vision before they lost contact with the pilot.
Luna County Sheriff's Office Undersheriff Arturo Baeza described the scene he saw when he responded to the crash, saying the signs of wreckage made him believe the accident followed the pilot having medical issues.
"It went over a ridge, there were some pieces there on the side of the hill and then it went through a little valley, there's some pieces there, and then it started getting into the flats and it finally ended up with the engine, propellors and one of the wheels," he described. "The body (Link) was probably sixty yards from the engine and propellor portion."
Authorities searched the area to see if another person may have been riding alongside in the plane but were unable to find anyone else.
The Radium Springs man who found the wreckage reportedly heard the whizzing sound of an airplane flying by, but never saw the plane nor heard the sound of a crash.
On his way out of the area, he noticed wreckage about a quarter mile off the dirt road. Upon inspecting the wreckage, the man found the plan upside-down with one wheel sticking into the air. Inside the cockpit, Link was found deceased. The man then found cell phone reception and reported the crash to authorities.
On Thursday, federal officials were still at the crash site investigating. A New Mexico State Police officer stood watch over the area, keeping media from approaching the scene.
Baeza said he understood the pilot had filed a flight plan with the FAA. He was reportedly flying east out of the Silver City area before the crash.
Link's age and area of residence in New Mexico have not yet been made available.
Matt Robinson can be reached at email@example.com