Witness ‘Saw The Airplane “Bank Really Hard To The South, Back Across The Highway” As If The Airplane Were Trying To Turn Around’

Location: Cedar City, UT Accident Number: WPR22FA164
Date & Time: April 23, 2022, 18:48 Local Registration: N321PF
Aircraft: Diamond Aircraft Ind Inc DA 40 Injuries: 4 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On April 23, 2022, about 1848 mountain daylight time, a Diamond Aircraft, DA 40, N321PF, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Cedar City, Utah. The pilot and 3 passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The operator reported that the pilot rented the airplane with the intent to fly a multi-leg round robin cross county flight from his home base of Spanish Fork Municipal Airport/Woodhouse Field (SPK), Spanish Fork, Utah. The pilot planned route of flight included intermediate stops at Cedar City Regional Airport (CDC), Bryce Canyon Airport (BCE), Canyonlands Regional Airport (CNY), Carbon County Regional Airport/Buck Davis Field (PUC), before returning to SPK.

The operator stated that the airplane departed SPK on the first leg of the flight with about 40 gallons of fuel.

Recorded airport surveillance video at CDC showed the accident airplane land at 1615 hours and taxi to the self-serve fuel pumps. The pilot and passengers disembarked, and the pilot refueled the airplane, adding about 14 gallons of fuel. The pilot and passengers subsequently boarded the airplane and taxied toward the runway.

A pilot rated witness, who was driving down Cedar Canyon (westbound) on State Highway 14, reported that he observed what is believed to be the accident airplane flying up the canyon over the river, about 300 ft above ground level (agl). The witness stated that as the airplane was about to pass over their position, it turned left and then right, and that the maneuvers were quick and more like a rocking motion.

The witness added that propeller appeared to be under power and not windmilling. A second witness, who was traveling on State Highway 14 near the accident site, reported that they observed an airplane believed to be the accident airplane flying on an easterly heading, over the highway, about 200-300 ft above the ground (agl). The witness stated that other than being low, the airplane did not appear to be in distress, however; his vehicle windows were up, and he could not hear the airplane’s engine. After the airplane passed over their position, he looked in the mirror and saw the airplane “bank really hard to the south, back across the highway” as if the airplane were trying to turn around in the narrow canyon. The witness stated that at that point, the airplane’s wings appeared to be almost vertical and the airplane “didn’t look like it had enough speed to pull off that maneuver.”

First responders later located the airplane wreckage while responding to a vegetation fire. Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted mountainous terrain along the southern edge of a canyon about 7 miles southeast of the CDC. The airplane came to rest inverted, on a magnetic heading of about 289°, at an elevation of 6,583 ft mean sea level. The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was a tall tree that had damaged limbs near the top of the tree. The debris path was oriented on a magnetic heading of about 294° and was about 150 ft in length from the FIPC to main wreckage. All major structural components of the airplane were located throughout the debris path.

The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov