Three Dead in Mid-Air Plane Crash

By Beacon Staff

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. – Two single-engine planes collided in mid-air Sunday a few miles from the Rock Springs-Sweetwater County Airport, killing all three people aboard, authorities said.

Local officials received 911 calls of an “explosion in the sky” around 12:26 p.m., said Det. Dick Blust, a sheriff’s spokesman.

Debris from the burned wreckage was scattered over five acres in a remote area about five miles northwest of the airport, according to TV reports.

Blust declined to release additional information, saying authorities were still working to identify the victims and notify family members.

One of the planes involved in the crash was a Cirrus SR22 that took off from Polson, Mont., with two people aboard, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane was headed to the Rock Springs airport, Gregor said. The pilot had been communicating with regional air traffic control during the flight and had been cleared for approach to the airport but was not speaking with controllers at the time of the collision, Gregor said. The airport does not have a control tower, according to its Web site.

The other plane was a Cessna 172 with only the pilot aboard, Gregor said.

Preliminary information showed the Cessna pilot was a student and had been practicing in the Rock Springs area at the time of the crash, Gregor said.

The Cessna was not in communication with air traffic controllers, which is common when private pilots fly in clear weather, Gregor said.

Both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the cause of the crash.

KSL-TV in Salt Lake City reported a parachute was visible at the crash site, which is located about 150 miles east of Salt Lake City in western Wyoming.

Gregor said a parachute is standard equipment on a Cirrus SR22 and can be deployed to bring the aircraft to a soft landing in the event of engine failure. Gregor said he did not know if the parachute was deployed before the crash.