Probe blames pilot for December 2010 plane crash in Roy

May 5 2012 - 6:20pm

Images

Airplane wreckage is spread throughout a neighborhood in Roy on Dec. 6, 2010. The plane hit the houses after coming short while landing at Ogden-Hinckley airport in Ogden Sunday night.(photo by Matthew Arden Hatfield)
Ken Hodges inspects the home of his inlaws after the house was damaged by an airplane crash in Roy on Dec. 6, 2010. The plane hit several houses after coming short while landing at Ogden-Hinckley airport in Ogden Sunday night.(photo by Matthew Arden Hatfield)
Airplane wreckage is spread throughout a neighborhood in Roy on Dec. 6, 2010. The plane hit the houses after coming short while landing at Ogden-Hinckley airport in Ogden Sunday night.(photo by Matthew Arden Hatfield)
Ken Hodges inspects the home of his inlaws after the house was damaged by an airplane crash in Roy on Dec. 6, 2010. The plane hit several houses after coming short while landing at Ogden-Hinckley airport in Ogden Sunday night.(photo by Matthew Arden Hatfield)

ROY -- The National Transportation Safety Board blames the pilot for the December 2010 plane crash that damaged several Roy homes and injured 17 people.

The plane came down near 2000 W. 4300 South at 5:58 p.m. on Dec. 5, 2010. The pilot, Clayton Roop of West Haven, survived with serious injuries and severe burns to a third of his body.

Roop, then 46 years old, was flying his single-engine Cessna 210 to the Ogden-Hinckley Municipal Airport when the plane clipped the roofs of two houses before crashing into a back yard.

In its investigation, the NTSB determined that Roop's visibility was diminishing because of heavy ground fog and that, after being advised about the conditions by an air traffic controller, flew too low and hit a power pole.

Recorded air traffic control communications revealed that the pilot got an update that weather conditions were deteriorating while he was en route to the airport, according to the report. He was advised that visibility was a quarter mile less than the published approach minimums -- the lowest a pilot can safely fly before determining if it's safe to land, to try again later or land somewhere else.

The NTSB also determined that Roop did not stabilize his airspeed or intercept the localizer -- a transmitter that helps planes align with the runway -- once he was inside his final approach.

"Although his failure to establish a stabilized approach should have led him to initiate a missed approach, the pilot continued the approach and contacted the tower controller," the report reads.

The controller updated him on the visibility, which was by then a half mile below the published approach minimums. Roop chose to continue his approach and descended low enough to hit a power pole and some trees about half a mile from the end of the runway, the report states.

Roop told the NTSB that he too was concerned about visibility and called the Salt Lake City Federal Aviation Administration Air Route Traffic Control Center en route to get a clearance into Ogden, according to a separate accident report from January 2011. He added that the center gave him clearance and told him to climb to and maintain 15,000 feet. "The next thing I remember is lying on the ground and being asked my name and having my clothes cut off," he said in the report.

The NTSB report points out that another pilot flying under the same conditions chose to go to a different airport. About the same time as Roop's approach, a turbojet plane attempted to land at Ogden but reported a missed approach and requested directions to another airport with better visibility.

The fog was thick enough that evening to obscure the wreckage, even around the crash site, as emergency responders rushed to the scene.

Residents have complained to the Roy and Ogden city councils about the airport as this was the fourth such crash in 11 years.

At an Ogden City Council meeting about a week after the crash, the residents' main point of concern was a runway that the airport expanded. When construction finished, it was closer to their homes, prompting planes to depart and land at lower altitudes above their roofs, they said.

Then-Mayor Matthew Godfrey apologized for the stress the residents felt but explained that the FAA, not the city, controls the airport.

On Wednesday night, the Roy City Council told attendees about the NTSB finding that the pilot was at fault and discussed increasing the number of flights that come in and out of the airport.

Mayor Joe Ritchie said he and City Manager Chris Davis have met with airport manager Royal Eccles, as well as with Ogden city officials, to discuss expanding the airport to increase commuter flights. Ritchie said he feels confident all involved have the best interest of safety for everyone in mind.

While a vocal critic at the meeting felt that the cities were trading residents' safety to make more money with a growing airport, one man whose house was damaged in the crash took a different tact and thanked Roy City for keeping the public informed about the investigation.

The council also explained that the airport preceded the creation of the subdivisions.

Eccles declined to comment on the report.

-- Standard-Examiner correspondent Rachel Trotter contributed to this story.

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