Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP, N2117Y and Sonex Xenos, N255BF: Fatal accident occurred September 17, 2022 in Niwot, Boulder County, Colorado

National Transportation Safety Board - Accident Number: CEN22FA424

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Denver, Colorado 

Aircraft collided mid-air with N255BF.

Spartan Education LLC


Date: 17-SEP-22
Time: 14:50:00Z
Regis#: N2117Y
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 2
Flight Crew: 1 Fatal
Pax: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: SUBSTANTIAL
Activity: INSTRUCTION
Flight Phase: MANEUVERING (MNV)
Operation: 91
City: LONGMONT
State: COLORADO

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Denver, Colorado 

Aircraft collided mid-air with N2117Y.


Date: 17-SEP-22
Time: 14:50:00Z
Regis#: N255BF
Aircraft Make: SONEX
Aircraft Model: XENOS
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 1
Flight Crew: 1 Fatal 
Pax: 0 
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: SUBSTANTIAL
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: MANEUVERING (MNV)
Operation: 91
City: LONGMONT
State: COLORADO

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email witness@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov. You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.



Daniel Ray Wilmoth
December 27, 1999 ~ September 17, 2022 (age 22)



Daniel Ray Wilmoth passed away Saturday, September 17, 2022. Daniel was born in Denver, Colorado, and lived and loved life as a Colorado Native. He graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver with his Bachelor of Science in Aviation and Aerospace Science in August 2022. Daniel was also an accomplished aviator, commercial pilot, and flight instructor and held numerous ratings.

Daniel joined the Colorado Air National Guard in 2020 and served his country as an Aircraft Armament Systems Technician with unbridled enthusiasm and joy. His guard members recall that Daniel always had a smile on his face and “ran” everywhere. Daniel served with the utmost pride and was working toward his goal of becoming an officer and flying the F-16 Viper with the 120th Fighter Squadron and continuing to serve the State of Colorado, the Air National Guard, and the USAF. His leadership described him as a “dedicated, hardworking individual and an exceptional leader in the 140th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron who continually exceeds the expectations of his superiors and his peers,” He was also described as “inspirational, determined, and professional at all times.” He was nominated for the Air Forces Northern Command, Junior Enlisted Airman of the Year Award by his leadership.

Daniel’s passions included flying, where he worked as a Certified Flight Instructor. As a Flight Instructor, he performed his job with a dedication to providing the best education possible to his students. He spent countless hours developing a teaching curriculum and honing his instructing skills. His flight examiner described Daniel as “holding the demeanor and competence of a pilot far his senior” and “inside the cockpit as being nothing shy of a superlative stick.” In addition, Daniel’s character was described as that of the highest moral caliber. He competed and won at a national level in aviation aerobatics with Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Daniel was a man of faith who loved the Lord. He enthusiastically served in many different capacities, including leading worship, running a soundboard, managing a bookstore, attending mission trips, outreaches, and Bible studies. Anyone who met Daniel could see the love of Jesus manifest in his life. He genuinely cared about people as individuals and was the tangible hands and feet of Jesus. Daniel’s name was chosen because it means “God is my judge” or can also be known as “God is my leader.” The verse Daniel left with us was Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose hope is the Lord.”

Daniel loved all things technology, Marvel movies, dancing, and golf. He tackled life and embraced it at the same time.

He leaves behind his parents Darrel and Barbara Wilmoth; sisters Rebekah Wilmoth and Rachel Wilmoth; brother David Wilmoth; girlfriend; Darby Berringer, and numerous family members, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family members, and friends who love him very much.



Daniel Ray Wilmoth



The Boulder County Coroner’s Office has identified the three people who died after two planes collided in mid-air over the weekend.

The three victims have been identified as Daniel Wilmoth, 22; Samuel Fisher, 23; and Henry A. Butler Jr., 69.

Mountain View Fire Rescue responded to reports of a plane crash about 9 a.m. Saturday in the area of North 95th Street and Niwot Road. Upon arriving, first responders found two crash sites.

The first aircraft, a Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP, was found on the south side of Niwot Road about a mile east of 95th Street. The two occupants, a flight instructor and a student pilot, were dead on arrival.

The second aircraft, a Sonex Xenos, was found on the north side of Niwot Road about a half-mile east of 95th Street. The plane held one occupant who was also found dead at the scene.

The coroner’s office did not specify which victims were in which planes.

According to flight tracking data, the Cessna 172 left Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield about 8:43 a.m. and flew north on a training flight. The Sonex Xenos left Platte Valley Airpark in Hudson about 8:38 a.m. and flew west, officials said.

Both aircraft were about 7,000 feet above sea level when the Cessna 172 made a right turn, and the flight paths of the two planes merged.

Neither aircraft was in contact with an air traffic control, and neither craft was equipped with a collision avoidance system






29 comments:

  1. Henry A. Butler Jr., 69 - Was flying in the Sonex Xenos solo.
    Daniel Wilmoth, 22 - CFI in the 172 issued on 7/24/2022.
    Samuel Fisher, 23 - Student Pilot in the 172.

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    Replies
    1. Both aircraft ADS-B tracks in one view:
      https://globe.adsbexchange.com/?icao=a1c09d,a26a30&lat=40.080&lon=-105.129&zoom=12.3&showTrace=2022-09-17&trackLabels

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  2. How many midair collisions between pilots past the age of 65 and students / CFI's does that make in the past few weeks?

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    1. Another pertinent question is how many fatal accidents have we had this year with a newly minted CFI training a student?

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    2. I doubt 69 yr older age had anything to do with this accident. 69 is still young enough to be quite alert and skilled. If anything it was the young 20-somethings feeling bulletproof with a young CFI heads-down on a iPad looking at ADSB returns that ran over the 20-30 knot slower motor glider. Both aircraft were operated inside the Denver 30nm ADSB veil, so both were required to have -out capability.

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    3. I made no insinuations about either sets of ages, skill levels or experience. It's a purely factual observation that every single midair crash in the past few weeks that I know about has been student/CFI in one plane and folks over the age of 65 in the other.

      I don't care about anything else, except that has to be some kind of statistical anomaly.

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    4. I presume it hasn’t dawned on you that the 65+ crowd has the most free time and significant resources to spend flying? How much time does the average private spend in the air? 40 hours? 50? Many of my retired pilot friends are spending 5 or 10 times that amount of time flying. More than that, actually doing significant cross country and not just filling up the pattern.

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    5. How is a newly “minted” CFI suppose to become a seasoned CFI without doing their hours? Can’t have the experienced hours before one learns through the inexperienced hours.

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  3. The exact altitudes of each aircraft would be helpful. If the glider was at the same as Cessna he should have seen the Cessna in front of him and deviated to give adequate spacing for changes. If he was higher altitude they were somewhat in each other’s blind spot temporarily., due to high wing on Cessna and low on glider. Doubtful they saw each other until too late.

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  4. Buzz Butler was a long time pilot that typically flew a 59 Mooney M20 that he had owned for years, it was mint. N8175E The Sonex was a later acquisition. Buzz had thousands of hours of flight time. The other folks I don't know. Impossible to say what happened if you weren't there. It's a sad loss for all.

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  5. They had 3,119,884.69 square miles in which to fly (in 2 dimensions, now factor in 3 dimensions and the time dimension). Sorry, exclude restricted areas. It wasn't their day, notwithstanding the various methods of mitigation of midair collisions. R.I.P.

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  6. It's really quite incredible, especially in this day and age (ADS-B), with so much space in the blue sky that we still have mid-air collisions. The West-North-West corridor along the Denver Front Range seems to be especially dangerous. From heavy student traffic along the North-Western area between BJC and LMO/GXY to one of the busiest training, GA, and corporate airports in the U.S. (APA) all existing beneath one of the busiest Commercial airports (DEN).
    Denver is a hot bed ripe for tragedy.

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    1. Yeah... but not everyone has ADSB out. I was holding short on an IFR training flight a few weeks ago and I saw a C150 skimming across the approach end of the runway I was about to take of from. My CFII thought he knew they guy and called him on the radio. No reply. Then he said something to the effect that the C150 was new to the guy and it didn't have working radios :/ or ADSB-OUT. I gave my instructor my Stratus and told him to keep it. He'll use it more than I would with it sitting in my bag. I'll get another one and I'll know that he has a better chance of surviving if he can see traffic. Now he knows that traffic isn't always on the iPad...

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    2. True, but everyone flying inside the Mode C veil of Bravo airspace must have ADSB-out. which is where these pilots collided. So yes, I agree many aircraft do not have ADSB-out, but in this case they did. I'm baffled why that Cessna turned into the path of the Sonex- if he had ADSB-in (which has yet to be positively determined, but it is reported he did), he should have been well aware of the Sonex. Whether Buzz had ADSB-in is unknown, but even if he had it's difficult to say whether he would have had time to evade the Cessna.

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    3. I flew into a Bravo (Houston), last week, for the first time in almost 30 years of flying, but I was on an IFR flight plan so it was not all that exciting or difficult. Looking at a sectional (ForeFlight on my iPhone) the Bravo above KEIK starts at 10,000 and ends at 12,000. The town of Niwot is outside of the Bravo. Wait... no it's not... I'm typing as I'm looking at the chart and I just saw that the mode C veil is in fact well outside of where they were (Mode C required). I'm baffled about the Cessna's turn as well. It's a sad situation all of the way around. Condolences to the families and loved ones.

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  7. IMHO, pilots today spend too much time focusing on "Inside the Cockpit" rather than "Outside the Cockpit. Way too many electronic gizmos today to take the pilot-instructors-other crew and passengers away from looking and scanning outside the cockpit looking for other traffic. I've flown with too many pilots that spend 90 percent of their time "Inside the Cockpit" focusing on their electronic toys, and hardly ever "outside the Cockpit."

    When I learned to fly we didn't have glass cockpits, ADSB, and the host of all the rest of these newer electronics. I was taught to spend 3/4's of my time "outside the Cockpit" and 1/4 of my time "inside the Cockpit." I do believe that many of the mid-airs today are the results of fiddling with all the newer equipment electronic gizmos and failing to fly the airplane. I do believe that the older ways of flying has been replaced by the newer electronic age of flying, rendering aircraft as unguided missals

    So sad to see ...

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    Replies
    1. ^^^^^^^^ What he said. Spot on.

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    2. Spending too much time looking inside because of gizmos? Maybe so but I doubt it. In the last 4 years I haven't flown anything that was loaded with gizmos due to lack of availability and the simple fact that I prefer steam gauges. I flew a C172RG with an autopilot but that's not a a gizmo, that's a feature.

      Spotting an aircraft that is arcing into your flight path, with 160 kts to 80 kts (or mph) of closure speed is no easy task. There are a lot of aircraft in the air these days. There are a lot of old and new pilots in the air. Eyes typically don't get better with age. There are a lot of factors at play in this one.

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    3. I spend a good bit of time looking at my ADSB traffic feed, as it tends to notify me of conflicting traffic before my eyes are able to.

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  8. ADS-B data in dual track plot linked below reveals a C172 turn toward the Sonex with both aircraft coming into proximity without being in significant climb or descent at nearly identical altitudes, for an head-on intercept with 80 to 90 knots ground speed for each aircraft.

    https://globe.adsbexchange.com/?icao=a1c09d,a26a30&lat=40.102&lon=-105.127&zoom=14.9&showTrace=2022-09-17&trackLabels

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  9. On the video of this incident on the blancolirio YouTube channel, one commenter notices that the track provided by ADSB Exchange of the Sonex aircraft was using an MLAT signal. NOT an ADSB signal. The Sonex did not seem to have ADSB (illegal nowadays in mode C veil of KDEN). MLAT signals could be inaccurate and definitely not as accurate as ADSB. My guess was Sonex did not see the traffic at all. It made no deviations to avoid traffic and probably did not have ADSB in. Cessna saw traffic, likely with ADSB in, and turned to avoid. But they crashed due to incorrect positioning of MLAT, which may have falsely indicated the aircraft was further to the north. What should have been done is a climbing turn, to avoid same altitude, even if turning away from oncoming traffic. I am a full supporter of ADSB out. Only recently got my PPL, and cannot fathom how pilots can 100% depend on “see and avoid”. Factor in clouds, blind spots, high vs low wing, student pilots, Sun glare, high speed aircraft, distractions, eye issues, other cockpit activities. Trusting See and avoid for 100% of the time?! Cmon! Technology is there to assist and prevent accidents! They shouldn’t be depended on but they do help! I hope ADSB out is mandatory and for all aircraft unwilling to install ADSB out be confined to certain flight areas noted on sectionals, to be avoided by other GA aircraft. For those against ADSB out and other technologies, why were stoplights and traffic lines on roads invented if we can just trust everyone on the road to “see and avoid”? See and avoid is still necessary but the technology makes everything even safer. Isn’t that something that is beneficial for everyone?

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    1. Agree that there are limitations to "see and avoid". But also with ADS-B. I was in the NYC Bravo Mode C veil (ADS-B rule airspace) yesterday and watched a 172 coming out of the Bravo, at my altitude, on a collision course with me and yet NOTHING on my Lynx ADS-B in/out transponder. ATC had just terminated flight following with me moments before, not at my request (probably due to traffic volume). Fortunately I saw the 172 with plenty of time and made a small turn to avoid it. I rocked my wings vigorously as we passed, but I never got a response. I am against ADS-B mandates for everyone, but I think for many it is a prudent thing to have installed. ADS-B in/out combined with a good visual lookout, and VFR flight following is better than just a visual look out, but nothing is 100%.

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    2. A ForeFlight subscription plus Sentry (ads-b in/out) only cost $500+$120. Add in an iPad and you get Terrain and Traffic Alerts for less than $1,000 dollars...

      Commercial airlines pay over $35,000 for EGPWS and TCAS. If you value your life at less than $1,000 what are you doing flying an airplane?

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    3. @JD glad you got out of that one. These are the risks of aviation that keep you on your toes. Too bad you did not get the tail number of the Cessna to report it. I know.. “who likes snitchers?” But I think it’s something to be enforced. There are enough GA accidents already. Definitely improvement is needed. Will keep up on my scans and know what I’m not safe even in mode-c veil.

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  10. Low wing vs high wing seems to be the norm. I would modify training for pilots to consider be extra cautious when they ride in a specific wing type and another aircraft is close which is opposite theirs. A high wing is especially vulnerable turning base to final to any traffic coming on final. Likewise on downwind to any pattern coming on the 45.

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  11. A Paramotor passing through at 6,200 feet may have contributed an "Oh, look!" distraction to both pilots. Linked plots of combined tracks, and the replay that found the paramotor:

    C172 and the paramotor:
    https://globe.adsbexchange.com/?icao=a1c09d,A14FCC&lat=40.080&lon=-105.129&zoom=12.3&showTrace=2022-09-17&trackLabels

    Sonex (MLAT) and the paramotor:
    https://globe.adsbexchange.com/?icao=A14FCC,a26a30&lat=40.080&lon=-105.129&zoom=12.3&showTrace=2022-09-17&trackLabels

    Replay (hit pause and change speed from 30X upon loading):
    https://globe.adsbexchange.com/?replay=2022-09-17-14:50&lat=40.080&lon=-105.129&zoom=12.3

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    1. If left & right 360 practice was underway in C172:

      Instructor has student perform the 360 turn to the left.
      Instructor/student see paramotor pass thru, goes to their right
      Instructor has student start the 360 turn to the right.
      "Watch and make sure the paramotor doesn't come back"
      Looking toward the paramotor, keeping an eye on it.
      Paramotor turns. C172 pilots notice & continue to watch.

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    2. After watching the playback on both of these I think you're right. They were both focused on the Paramotor and didn't even see each other.

      You can even see both aircraft maneuvering to avoid it and/or get a better look at it... right into each other.

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    3. Thanks, it certainly seems possible. Doing an ADS-B playback for accidents in areas where ground receiver capture is solid can sometimes find things like that. You can save that replay link as an example and edit the line as required to use again to check another accident's track for nearby aircraft.

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