DEN02LA023
DEN02LA023

On January 28, 2002, at 0847 mountain standard time, a Beech V35B, N1176T, impacted mountainous terrain while maneuvering near American Fork, Utah. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant aboard, was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the personal flight being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated from Salt Lake Municipal Airport 2 in West Jordan, Utah, approximately 0830, and was en route to Delta, Utah.

The following is based on the lineman's written statement as to the conversation he had with the pilot prior to his departure from Salt Lake Municipal 2 Airport. The pilot told the lineman he was "'going down south today.'" The lineman thought the pilot was referring to a future trip because "nobody in their right mind...would trying flying out of our airport at that time [since] there was a winter storm moving through the area." The lineman briefed the pilot on the restrictions currently in effect due to the ongoing Winter Olympics, and asked him "'when would he be flying up?'" The pilot told him he was departing that day and was having his airplane refueled as they spoke. Having looked outside at the weather conditions, the lineman said it was as though they were "in the eye of a hurricane, and [I] couldn't believe [the pilot] would try taking off in the storm..." When asked, the pilot said he had not received a weather briefing, but that "he was going to try to 'scud run' down to Delta, about 103 miles to the south. The lineman said he "couldn't believe what he was telling me. I told him that every year, we get two or three airplanes trying to scud run, and they run into the mountains..." The lineman asked the pilot if he was instrument rated, and he said he was, but he was "not current."

The lineman took the pilot into their briefing room and showed him the radar images on the weather computer. "It showed large build ups all over the area. I discussed with him how bad the icing would be in the area. The pilot asked how high the [cloud] tops were, and was told he would have to contact Cedar City [Utah] FSS [Flight Service Station] for that information. The pilot said he "might do that." The lineman said he again tried to discourage the pilot from leaving. The pilot then paid his fuel bill. The lineman asked him why he needed to leave and was told he had to "get to work." The lineman replied that "was a stupid reason to go flying off in this [weather]." The pilot said "he would try to make it and that if it got bad, he would come back."

The pilot got in the airplane as another lineman brushed frost off the wing. He "seemed to be neglecting every sign of danger. He didn't even get the frost off the wing before he left." After several attempts, the pilot started the engine and taxied to runway 16. Both linemen watched the airplane take off and disappear into the clouds about a mile south of the airport.

On January 28, 2002, at 1700, the Cedar City FSS issued an ALNOT (Alert Notice) for the missing airplane. It was cancelled on January 29, 2002, at 1441, when the wreckage was located at the 6,600-foot level of American Fork Canyon, on the north side of State Highway 92, on a south-facing cliff. The geographical coordinates were 40 degrees, 47'58" north latitude, and 111 degrees, 43'13" west longitude.

NTAP (National Track Analysis Program) radar data was retrieved from the Salt Lake City Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) and analyzed by Denver's ARTCC Quality Assurance Division. The data, in ASCII format, was loaded into Tactical Mapping software. Aircraft position was depicted using latitude/longitude plots in time sequence, and aircraft speed was determined by mathematical calculation of distance traveled.

According to this data, the airplane was first detected at 0835:59, when it was at 5,600 feet msl (above mean sea level), just past the Utah State Penitentiary. It tracked southeast along Interstate Highway 15, past Lehi, and out to the shore of Lake Provo. It then turned left, crossed over the town of American Fork, and entered American Fork Canyon. As it went further east into the canyon, it made four consecutive left 360 degree turns: at 0842:08, when it was at 7,300 feet; at 0843:4, when it climbed from 7,300 feet to about 8,500 feet; at 0845:22, when it was at 9,200 feet; and at 0846:18, when it was at 9,400 feet. The airplane continued to climb to 10,000 feet, at which time radar contact was lost at 0847:27.

An autopsy of the pilot was performed by the Utah State Medical Examiner's Office on January 30, 2002. A toxicology screen was performed by FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI). According to CAMI's report, 169.096 (ug/ml, ug/g) Salicylate, a compound found in over-the-counter aspirin, was detected in the urine.

Weather conditions at Provo, Utah, located 17 miles south southeast of the accident site, were as follows: Wind, 130 degrees at 7 knots; visibility, 10 statue miles; sky condition, 1,200 feet scattered; ceiling, 1,600 feet broken, 2,300 feet broken; temperature, 1 degree C.; dew point, -2 degrees C.; altimeter, 29.71.

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