SOUTHERN UTAH – The National Transportation Safety Board released preliminary information Wednesday on the Oct. 5 plane crash that killed two Southern Utah University flight instructors near Cedar City. New information states witnesses observed the pilot performing various maneuvers and observed the airplane in a “nose-low descent” before it crashed.
Retired Lt. Col. Command Pilot Alan Carver, 50, and Nathan Stoddard, 24, were both found dead after something went wrong during a routine flight in a two-seat, single-engine Cessna 152 owned by Upper Limit Aviation, causing the two men to crash near the northeast side of Quichapa Lake.
On the day of the crash, the local company check flight departed Cedar City about 12:15 p.m., the report states, adding “visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.”
It was Stoddard’s second day on the job, and he was receiving instructor proficiency training so he could take on students the following day. Carver was providing the training Stoddard would need to take on new pupils.
At 1:03 p.m., the aircraft, with tail number N6449M, impacted the dry lake bed approximately 6 nautical miles southwest of Cedar City Municipal Airport. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces.
“Witnesses observed the pilot performing various maneuvers in the airplane over the dry lake bed, which was typically used as a training area,” the report stated. “A witness observed the airplane in a nose-low descent and fluttering leaf before it impacted terrain.”
The report states the airplane was equipped with an onboard flight tracking system that recorded data points every two minutes. The last recorded data point indicated the airplane was approximately 3,500 feet above ground level over the accident site, with a ground speed of 40 knots.
While it is still unknown why the plane went down the way it did, Upper Limit Aviation Communication and Business Relations Manager Scott Jolley said, what is known is that shortly before the crash, everything was going along as normal.
“We know that, based on GPS coordinates and speed and altitude, that they were performing routine maneuvers for two instructors,” he said.
The airplane was documented on scene and then recovered to a secure storage facility in Phoenix to see if NTSB experts can better understand why the crash occurred.
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