Friday , July 28, 2017 - 5:47 PM
OGDEN — The tragic crash of a small airplane on Interstate 15 near Riverdale Road Wednesday served as a reminder of how quickly that misfortune can unfold.
But the data also indicates such crashes are fairly rare.
According to National Transportation Safety Board documentation, there have been 68 small plane crashes in the Ogden area since 1982, 11 which were fatal. Wednesday’s crash, which took the lives of Perry and Sarah Huffaker and Layne and Diana Clarke, is not yet included on the list.
Jon Greiner, manager of the Ogden-Hinckley Airport, said the FAA-certified facility handles about 70,000 operations per year. An operation includes take off and landing, and of that total, approximately 250 refer to twice weekly commercial flights.
Dwight Baldwin, a member of the Ogden Airport Advisory Board, began piloting small planes at age 16. And now at 63, he has no plans to stop.
“I go to the airport every day, even if it’s just to look at airplanes,” Baldwin said. “We don’t know the cause of (Wednesday’s) crash, but I suspect everyone who’s a pilot asks if they’re training well enough and staying proficient. It probably crosses our minds when something like this happens.”
On Thursday, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway said the crash’s official cause will likely not be determined for 12 to 18 months. However, a preliminary report — which would contain investigation details from the scene and plane — could be available as soon as early August, he said.
Martin O’Loughlin, a former U.S. Navy Top Gun and flight instructor who conducted mishap investigations in the Navy, serves as an aviation consultant and has two planes housed at the Ogden-Hinckley Airport.
While emphasizing he was not speculating on the cause of Wednesday’s crash, O’Loughlin did comment on factors that pilots must consider when flying in and out of Ogden.
“There are a couple of things we have to attend to in the high mountain areas. One is the high elevation — the airport is almost 4,500 feet above sea level, so the air is thinner here,” O’Loughlin said. “The second thing is, it gets really hot here.”
Higher temperatures and thinner air inevitably affect how airplanes behave.
“Engines don’t produce as much power, propellers don’t produce as much thrust, and wings don’t produce as much lift,” O’Loughlin said. “So it takes more runway to take off and land. That’s the No. 1 concern for us. Taking off in the middle of the day, in the middle of the summer, gives you more things to think about.”
At the time, residents said it was the third such incident in their immediate neighborhood near the intersection of 2075 West and 4300 South — just a few blocks away from the Ogden-Hinckley Airport..
“Unfortunately, aircraft mishaps are most likely to happen on takeoff and landing because that’s when the airplane is slowest and closest to the ground,” O’Loughlin said. “Municipalities move airports to the outskirts of town, and sooner or later people start building up around the airport.”
The following fatal crashes in the Ogden area were listed on the NTSB website:
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