The Airplane Owner Planned To Take The Two Passengers On A Local Tour Flight

Location: Bountiful, UT Accident Number: WPR21FA321
Date & Time: August 15, 2021, 18:47 Local Registration: N8477S
Aircraft: Cessna 182H Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On August 15, about 1847 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 182H, N8477S, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Bountiful, Utah. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to friends and family of the occupants, the airplane owner planned to take the two passengers on a local tour flight, in celebration of their one-year wedding anniversary. The owner had recently been awarded his certified flight instructor certificate (CFI), and during his training, he had received flight instruction from one of the passengers, who was also a CFI. The airplane was serviced with 20 gallons of fuel just before departure, at about 1835. The fuel was purchased using the credit card of one of the passengers.

The departure airport’s elevation was 4,237 ft mean sea level (msl) and located within the northern confines of the Salt Lake Valley between the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountain Range. Preliminary ADS-B data indicated that the airplane departed Skypark Airport at 1641, and after reaching the end of runway 35, began a climbing right turn to the northeast toward the foothills of the Sessions Mountains. For the next 3 minutes, the airplane continued to climb at a rate of about 700 ft per minute (fpm) and a speed of 90 knots until it reached the entrance to a canyon located about 4.5 miles northeast of their departure airport. For the first minute, the airplane remained about level with the tops of the canyon walls as the climb progressed. The airplane continued its northeast track up through the canyon, while maintaining the same climb rate into rising terrain. As the flight progressed, the height of the canyon walls began to increase such that by 1846:28, although the airplane had reached an altitude of 7,300 ft msl, it was now about 800 ft below the rims to the north and south. The airplane then entered a 1-mile-wide bowl at the end of the canyon, where for the last 8 seconds it slowed to about 64 knots and turned left to the north. The last ADS-B target was recorded at 1846:36.

The wreckage was located at an elevation of 7,225 ft, about 150 ft below and 350 ft beyond, the last ADS-B target. It came to rest facing downhill on a 50° southwest facing slope, about 1,100 ft below the summit of the surrounding canyon walls. The wreckage was within a densely forested area composed of loose shale, rock, and pine trees.

The debris field was confined within a 30 by 30 ft perimeter, at the base of a 70-ft-tall pine tree. When viewed from above, a near-vertical slash mark was observed cutting through the upper limbs of the tree, leading directly to a ground disruption and the wreckage, which was surrounded by freshly cut tree branches.

The entire cabin from the firewall through to the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer, along with both inboard wing sections was consumed by fire. The remnants of both wings were located on either side of the cabin.

Throughout the day of the accident, a forest fire had resulted in smoke and reduced visibility within the entire Salt Lake City area. The closest aviation weather observation station to the accident site was at Salt Lake City International Airport, 14 miles southwest. An aviation routine weather report was recorded at 1854, and indicated visibility of 5 miles with moderate smoke and haze.

A High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model sounding was created for the accident time and location, with the modeled surface elevation at 7,552 ft msl. The model indicated at that elevation, the temperature was about 22.9°C and the dewpoint was about 3.4°C, with a relative humidity of 28 percent, and wind from 307° at 7 knots. The wind remained between 7 and 12 knots through 9,000 ft msl with the wind direction from 307 to 339°. The model did not indicate any downdrafts or updrafts below 11,000 ft msl.