Survivor says pilots were avoiding Provo airspace before fatal crash

Nov 30, 2023, 2:46 PM | Updated: 2:47 pm

Image of a Cessna 172G aircraft that crashed in the mountains east of Provo on Nov. 14, 2023, killing two pilots. A surviving passenger believes the pilots were trying to avoid Provo and Salt Lake airspace when they flew into the canyon. (National Transportation Safety Board)

(National Transportation Safety Board)

PROVO, Utah — The National Transportation Safety Board has released more information about a fatal plane crash east of Provo.

On Nov. 14, Evan Backers and Collin Niemela were killed when their Cessna 172G plane flew into the mountainside near Kyhv Peak, in Slate Canyon. 

According to the NTSB report, a surviving passenger said the pilots took off from Spanish Fork Municipal Airport toward the Driggs/Reed Memorial Airport in Driggs, Idaho.

The passenger believes the pilots wanted to remain outside the Provo Airport airspace. But, the passenger also said he didn’t hear the actual conversations between the pilots on the rationale behind flying eastward into the canyon.

Using Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast  data, the NTSB determined that the pilot flew north and east of Provo Municipal Airport, and into Slate Canyon “toward rising terrain.”

It is still unclear what caused the plane to crash. The NTSB said the passenger reported wind in the canyon and that the plane’s stall warning horn went off before the plane hit the trees.

The wreckage was found about six miles northeast of Spanish Fork Municipal Airport, about 2,000 feet below the summit at 7,900 feet.

The NTSB continues to examine the plane and engine.

Other reading: Men that died in plane crash near Kyhv Peak identified


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Survivor says pilots were avoiding Provo airspace before fatal crash