Saturday, March 26, 2022

Piper PA-32R-300 Cherokee Lance, N111NW: Accident occurred March 24, 2022 near St. George Regional Airport (KSGU), Washington County, Utah

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City, Utah
Piper Aircraft; Phoenix, Arizona 
Lycoming Engines; Phoenix, Arizona 

Mitech Technology LLC

Location: Washington, Utah
Accident Number: WPR22LA127
Date and Time: March 24, 2022, 13:50 Local
Registration: N111NW
Aircraft: Piper PA-32R-300 
Injuries: 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On March 24, 2022, about 1350 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA-32R-300, N111NW, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near St. George, Utah. The pilot and passenger were seriously injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot reported that during the approach to runway 19 at St. George Regional Airport (SGU), about 3,800 ft agl, the engine lost power. Despite several attempts, he was unsuccessful at restarting the engine. He lowered the flaps to try and gain lift and soon realized he was not going to make the runway. The airplane impacted rough desert terrain and slid about 100 ft before coming to a stop.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings and fuselage. The landing gear collapsed and separated. Evidence of fuel was identified in both main wing tanks.

The wreckage was relocated to a secured facility for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N111NW
Model/Series: PA-32R-300
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSGU,2936 ft msl
Observation Time: 13:56 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 21°C /-11°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 210°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.14 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: Casper, WY (CPR) 
Destination: St. George, UT (SGU)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Serious 
Latitude, Longitude: 37.059517,-113.49787 (est)

Bruce Knell

Bruce Knell doesn’t remember falling 3,700 feet in seven seconds, but he remembers hitting the ground.

The Casper City Councilman and his wife Stacy were flying on Thursday from Casper to St. George, Utah for a golf tournament, when Knell’s Piper PA-32R-300 Cherokee Lance plane lost power over a field one mile from the St. George Regional Airport.  

“I remember losing power,” Knell told Cowboy State Daily from his bed in St. George Regional Hospital. He said he couldn’t recall the exact sensation of his rapid fall. The plane “just literally fell out of the sky.”  

“I did everything I could to keep it upright and try to glide it as much as I could, which is probably what saved us,” said Knell, adding that he also believed divine intervention had been in play. “I think it goes a little deeper than that, if you believe like I do.”  

An investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board told Knell on Saturday that “he’s never seen anything like this – and someone walk away from it.”  

Knell’s strongest memory was of the impact, which was “really hard.”    

Although he and his wife were both conscious when emergency personnel responded, he could not recall interacting with first responders on scene. The pair were rushed to the hospital, where Knell is being fitted for a custom back brace. His back, he said, is broken in four places; his sternum is broken, and the inside of his mouth is “cut up pretty bad.”  

Knell already had fusions in his back and had undergone back surgery in Casper last October. The “major hardware implantation” in from last autumn is now preventing doctors from operating on his back again, he said, but “they are going to put it in a brace for now.”  

“It doesn’t help when you fall out of the sky in a plane and you already have back issues,” he said, adding that his current pain level is “nothing like I’ve ever felt.”  

The exact cause of the power outage and subsequent crash are unknown but under investigation, Knell said.

The Federal Aviation Administration arrived on scene to investigate Friday, according to the Washington City Police Department

‘Prayers for My Wife’  

But Knell’s wife is in worse shape than he is, he said. He hoped the community would pray for her. 

Stacy Knell was transported to a Las Vegas hospital for care and is suffering from at least four breaks in her back, facial lacerations, and brain bleeding.  

Knell said his wife on Saturday morning had reported a “pretty rough night, not knowing where she was or why she was there,” due to the brain bleeding. He was insistent upon finishing his treatments and being cleared from the Utah hospital as soon as possible so that he could be with her. 

Stacy Knell underwent a six-hour back surgery Friday, he said.  

New Plane  

Knell said he’s been flying under a private license since about 2010 or 2011. The orange and white plane that went down on Thursday was a new purchase which he bought in December. It had a “brand new” factory-built motor in it and had performed well on previous flights.  
“I’ve flown it from Austin, Texas, to Casper, and flew around Casper quite a bit,” said Knell. “When we flew it down here, the flight here was awesome – until a mile from landing.”  

The couple had planned to attend a golf tournament in St. George and then fly from there to New Orleans for Stacy Knell’s daughter’s wedding next weekend.  

“So we’ll be missing that,” he said.  

Knell has just begun his second year in Casper City Council.

Bruce Knell

Casper City Councilmember Bruce Knell and his wife have been hospitalized with “serious injuries” from a plane crash Thursday in Utah, city officials said Friday.

“Mayor (Ray) Pacheco, Casper City Council, and all of the staff at the City of Casper want to convey our concern and sincere wishes for their sustained health and recovery,” City Manager Carter Napier said in a statement.

Utah news outlets reported Thursday that a Piper PA-32R-300 Cherokee Lance plane crashed near the St. George Regional Airport in the afternoon, around 1:40 p.m. The plane was coming from Casper, and carrying a pilot and passenger, according to St. George News.

Photos of that crash appear to show the same plane as one pictured in a public post on Knell’s Facebook page from February.

Washington City Police Lt. Kory Klotz told St. George News that the plane crashed on vacant land and skidded 50 to 100 yards.

“Something happened with the plane but we don’t know what that is and they were short of the runway by probably about a mile,” Klotz told the outlet. It did appear that the plane was coming in for a landing but just didn’t make it to the actual landing strip there.”

Knell confirmed to Cowboy State Daily on Friday that he had been in a crash, and a later message indicated he was undergoing surgery.

The councilman took office in January 2021 after winning an open seat in Ward I.

WASHINGTON CITY, Utah — Two people sustained injuries after a single-engine plane crash-landed on vacant land near St. George Regional Airport on Thursday afternoon.

The crash was reported shortly after 1:40 p.m. and involved a Piper PA-32R-300 Cherokee Lance plane carrying the pilot and one passenger who both appeared to be in their late 50s. Washington City Police Lt. Kory Klotz said someone in another plane reported the crash via radio.

The plane reportedly was traveling from Casper, Wyoming. The occupants likely were planning to stop at the St. George Regional Airport, Klotz said.

“They were coming in from the north,” he said. “Something happened with the plane but we don’t know what that is and they were short of the runway by probably about a mile. It did appear that the plane was coming in for a landing but just didn’t make it to the actual landing strip there.”

The plane crashed on vacant land owned by Stucki Farms and slid 50-100 yards before coming to rest. Klotz said there was no property damage.

Both occupants were transported in a Gold Cross Ambulance to St. George Regional hospital for evaluation and treatment. Klotz said the pilot had lower back injuries and the passenger had facial lacerations and a potentially broken jaw. Both occupants sustained various cuts and abrasions.

None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening and both occupants were conscious and alert, he said. No injuries to bystanders were reported.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, which has taken over from Washington City Police, Klotz said.

The Washington City Fire Department and airport personnel also responded to the scene.

This report is based on information provided by law enforcement and may not contain the full scope of findings.


  1. CPR CASPER, WY 10:26AM MDT to SGU ST GEORGE, UT 01:48PM MDT, 3 hr 22 min.

  2. No fire, no fuel. I'll bet he never leaned the mixture or had a flight (fuel) plan that took into account winds aloft.

  3. If you knocked the wings off it would take longer than 7 seconds from 3700 feet to get to the ground

    1. I'm confused by that as well. I think they meant 3700 feet in 7 minutes.

    2. Totally inaccurate statement "falling 3,700 feet in seven seconds"
      He started a controlled decent from his cruising altitude of approximately 10,500' @ 3:38 PM at a rate varying between -500 and -1000 ft/min. The last ADS-B data point at 3:47 PM (9 minutes later) shows a decent rate of -753 ft/min @ an altitude of 3000' for an average decent rate of -833'/min. A decent rate of 3700 Ft in 7 seconds would be:
      3700/7=-528'/sec x 60 for a minute which would translate to a decent rate of over -31,000ft/min. If the aircraft had actually impacted the terrain at this rate, there would be no recognizable piece of plane or person.
      Remember, the altitudes shown are MSL and not AGL. The field elevation at KSGU is reported as 2883' MSL.
      Link to the flightAware tracklog:


    3. Times shown in flightlog are Eastern time.
      For sale listing: Wow! 14,000 hrs on airframe


  4. The NTSB has not opened a file on this yet, odd...

  5. Two example 1976 PA-32R-300 aircraft are showing on with Lycoming IO-540-K1G5D engines listed, which reportedly has a single coupling "dual magneto".

    The for sale listing for N111NW doesn't mention it having been STC'd to the IO-540-K1G5 engine configuration of two independent magnetos to eliminate single point failure potential.

    And moving mags from the old engine to the new is not unusual when swapping to a new engine shipped without accessories. Situation can be further degraded if the old dual mag didn't get refreshed at the swap because it was midway through it's hours remaining until next inspection.

    Terrible to have a loss of power event on an obviously well cared for bird. Hoping for a return to good health for pilot and his gal.

  6. Our family owned one of the 1st Lances built, it was a replacement for our Cherokee 6. Have lots of time in both. The airplane has 4 tanks. He may have run a tank dry by not watching closely, as you need to do in that type. The Lycoming IO-540 is really a bulletproof engine, had them in our Aztecs and my Super Viking, just a good engine. Or possibly the mixture left too lean from the descent?

    1. refresher on "Why do many GA aircraft not have a "Both" fuel selector?" @

  7. Nice looking paint scheme. While the Lance is a fairly heavy airplane to lose your engine, there is really no reason to "fall out of the sky". Seems even @ best glide, you don't fall out. Glad they both survived and hope for their speedy and full recovery.

  8. Like the man said - divine intervention. I truly believe that.