Saturday, February 21, 2015

Avid FLYER, N88WJ: Incident occurred February 21, 2015 at St. George Municipal Airport (KSGU), Utah

ST. GEORGE — Just after 1 p.m. Saturday a single engine experimental plane got caught in a crosswind while landing at St. George Municipal Airport, crashing and ejecting the pilot about 3-4 feet from the plane. The pilot, who had been flying solo, walked away from the crash with no injuries except for scratches to his head and hand.

The pilot, local to the St. George area whose name has not been released by airport officials, was flying an Avid Flyer Model B, single engine, two-place (or seater), plane, tail number N88WJ, Airport Operations Supervisor Brad Kitchen said.

“The pilot was landing on Runway 19 and got caught up in a crosswind while he was landing and it took him off the runway,” Kitchen said, “He came through the infield and went over the top of a drainage ditch and ended up on Taxiway Alpha, or Taxiway A, with a collapsed left landing gear.”

When Kitchen arrived on scene shortly after the plane crash, winds were blowing from the west at about 7-10 knots, he said.

The pilot was thrown out about 3 or 4 feet from the airplane when the aircraft stopped. “He hit sideways, it stopped him abruptly and popped him out the pilot door,” Kitchen said. “The door opened – it probably opened from hitting an embankment or right near the edge of the taxiway – it doesn’t take much to jar these doors on any of these small aircraft.”

In addition to the collapsed landing gear, the aircraft suffered substantial structural damage.

“He’s very lucky,” Kitchen said of the pilot. “He crashed his airplane, the prop is no longer with us, it’s pretty much gone, and there’s substantial structural damage to the aircraft.”

Ultimately, the only injuries the pilot showed were a scratch on top of his head and a scratch on his hand. He declined medical transport, Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager of St. George, said.

Neither the airport nor its runways, except of a portion of one taxiway, were closed in response to the incident at any time with no impacts on its commercial or private use.

“We did a thorough runway inspection and we kept the runway open,” Kitchen said, “and the airport remained open. We just closed Taxiway Alpha from Alpha 2 to Alpha 1 for a short time.”

St. George Municipal Airport’s AR21 fire unit responded, as did St. George Fire Department’s Engine 28, St. George Police Department and Gold Cross Ambulance.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been contacted by airport staff to provide notification of the incident.

Neither Mortensen nor Kitchen knew what the FAA may require in this instance.

“We don’t know,” Mortensen said, “but we’ll have a report. We file a report with the Police Department as well.”

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