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Report reveals details on Utah County plane crash

(Donald W. Meyers | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah County Sheriff's Office personnel investigate the crash of a two-seat aircraft on U.S. Highway 89 south of Birdseye Thursday, June 27, 2013. Sheriff's Lt. Shawn Chipman said the pilot, who was critically injured in the crash, radioed the Spanish Fork airport that his cabin was filling with smoke and was going to attempt an emergency landing on the road. A passenger in the plane was killed on impact, Chipman said. The crash blocked traffic until 1:20 p.m.

By Michael McFall

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jul 09 2013 11:08AM
Updated Jul 9, 2013 10:49PM

A preliminary report reveals why a pilot had to make an emergency landing in Utah County last month and further confirms that he clipped power lines before crashing and killing his passenger.

Nicholas Soter, 66, of South Jordan, had just called in a "May Day" to the Spanish Fork Municipal Airport tower, reporting fire in the cockpit. Examination of the airplane revealed that an electrical system installed to provide power for the radar and test equipment had overheated and began to burn, according to the National Transportation Safety Board report released Monday.

Soter, working for a company that maps the ground with radar, had clipped power lines during an attempted emergency landing on U.S. 89 near the Utah-Sanpete county line, the report adds.

His single-engine Cessna 172 Skyhawk flipped when it hit the lines and crashed upside down in a field near the tiny town of Birdseye. His passenger, Gerald Wilson, 50, of South Jordan, died at the scene.

The crash was being investigated jointly by the NTSB, which is leading the probe, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration and the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

A disclaimer at the top of the report explains that the information is subject to change and may contain errors, since the report is only preliminary.

mmcfall@sltrib.comclass="ItalicText"> class="TEXT_w_Indent">Twitter: @mikeypanda

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