Aviation instructors provide insight into Payson pilot’s suicide flight

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) -Numerous questions remain about a Payson pilot’s final flight in which he committed suicide by flying a jet into his own home early Monday morning.

What kind of training, experience and precision flying did it take for pilot Duane Youd to target his own house? With the help of a flight simulator, the instructors at Cornerstone Aviation Flight School provided News4Utah some insight Tuesday.

To demonstrate, Cornerstone’s Senior Instructor and Curriculum Director Larry Shumway simulated a nighttime flight over the Payson area, showing what Youd would have seen after taking off from the Spanish Fork airport. Youd was a veteran pilot who apparently attempted to thread the needle below power lines and above his neighbors house, sending the Cessna Citation jet in a kamikaze dive at his own home.

Susan Horstman, a veteran commerical pilot and the CEO of Cornerstone Aviation, says flying into that small space at night would be difficult but not impossible.

“I think if he was going fast, yes you can direct yourself and pretty much go right on to it,” Horstman said. “And if he’s an experienced pilot, I mean the more experience we have, I have over 22,000 hours. I have a lot of experience. Could I do that? Yeah.”   

Youd was precise but a last second error may have prevented a direct hit on his house and saved the life of his wife and stepson inside.

Jason Aguilera, a Senior Investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, explained at the crash scene.

“We’ve got some trees that have been clipped. We’ve got a house across the street that was clipped,” Aguilera said. “There was some significant damage to the right wing and that might have slowed the airplane down.”

“We know he missed some power lines but he did clip something with his wing. Clipping it at that speed, yes it would divert where he was heading it would throw him off a little bit,” Horstman said. “Just by the luck of the draw, when he clipped, he diverted himself enough from maybe a full head on he was going to hit directly into the house where it veered him off enough to where he didn’t do that same damage.”

We will get some answers when the NTSB issues their preliminary report on the crash in about five days.

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