The Airplane Flew North And East Of PVU And Into Slate Canyon Toward Rising Terrain

Location: Provo, UT Accident Number: WPR24FA035
Date & Time: November 14, 2023, 10:08 Local Registration: N3971L
Aircraft: Cessna 172G Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On November 14, 2023, about 1008 Mountain standard time (MST), a Cessna 172G, N3971L, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Provo, Utah. Both pilots were fatally injured, and the passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. 

The passenger reported that they were flying from Spanish Fork Municipal Airport/Woodhouse Field (SPK), Utah, to Driggs/Reed Memorial Airport (DIJ), Driggs ID. He believed that the pilot’s intent was to maneuver and to remain outside of the Provo Municipal Airport (PVU) Class D airspace as well as the Salt Lake City Class B Airspace. According to Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B), shortly after takeoff, the airplane flew north and east of PVU and into Slate Canyon toward rising terrain. The passenger further reported that he was unable to discern any dialogue between the pilot and copilot regarding the rationale behind the pilot’s decision to fly eastward into the canyon. He also noted windy conditions in the canyon, that he heard the airplane’s stall warning horn, and that the plane was in a nosehigh attitude before it hit trees. 

At 1117, the Civil Air Patrol received an emergency locator broadcast. Following a search and rescue mission, the airplane wreckage was located about 6 miles northeast of SPK on a slope of Slate Canyon, about 2,000 feet below the summit at an elevation of about 7,900 ft mean sea level (msl). The aircraft was orientated on a magnetic heading of 050° when it came to rest on a 35° slope. The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was identified by a severed branch of 70-foot-tall aspen tree. A debris path was marked with subsequent tree strikes that began about 80 ft forward of the FIPC and oriented on a heading of 280° magnetic. 

The main wreckage marked the end of the debris path and was located about 170 ft beyond the FIPC. All major airplane components necessary for flight were accounted for at the accident site.

The airplane and engine were recovered to a secure location in Phoenix, Arizona for further