Preliminary report released into U.S. crash that killed Warner men

By Geoff Smith - Lethbridge News Now
March 13, 2018 - 1:22pm

 LETHBRIDGE - A preliminary report has been completed into the crash of a small plane in the United States that killed four men from Warner.

The wreckage of the Piper airplane was found Feb. 23 near Monticello, Utah, after it was reported missing the previous day. Investigators have found no evidence of a fire, before or after the crash, and no evidence of mechanical problems.

The four had been flying from Cut Bank, Mont. to Albuquerque, N.M. Feb. 21 to look at a plane the pilot was considering buying, when weather forced them to land and spend the night at Grand Junction, Colo., the report stated. At the request of the pilot, the plane was topped off with fuel that day.

The plane departed Grand Junction at 9:37 a.m. Feb. 22 but was not heard from again. No flight plan had been filed, and weather conditions at the time are unknown.

That night the Federal Aviation Administration was made aware the plane had not arrived at its destination, and the next morning an emergency locator transmitter was detected by the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. A search aircraft belonging to Civil Air Patrol discovered wreckage in a field, which was soon confirmed to be that of the missing plane. The debris was later taken to a secure facility to be examined.

“No evidence of any pre-impact mechanical deficiencies that would have precluded continued flight was observed,” the report said. “No evidence of any pre-or post-impact fire was observed.”

The plane, which had been listed for sale, was built in 1976 and had been last inspected in Sept. 2017. The pilot, the report said, had 597 hours of flight experience and had just been issued his most recent medical certificate by Transport Canada earlier in February.

The victims were identified in reports as father and son Bill Kaupp, the pilot, and Clint Kaupp, and friends Tim Mueller and Ron McKenzie. 

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