Report on deadly Riverdale plane crash finds pilot lost control

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2017 riverdale plane crash witness photo

RIVERDALE (ABC4 News) – More than two years ago, drivers on interstate-15 in Weber County watched as a single-engine plane crashed onto the freeway.

Now a newly released report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is giving some insight into what happened that caused 4 people to die in that crash on July 26, 2017.

Witnesses told ABC4 at the time that the plane exploded into flames as soon as it hit the freeway. They said they could feel the heat from the explosion through their cars.

Many had to swerve to avoid fiery debris.

9-1-1 callers told dispatchers the plane “nose-dived right into the ground.”

The emergency response to the crash was massive.

Miraculously, no one on the ground was killed or injured.

The same could not be said for those aboard the plane. The crash took the lives of Perry and Sarah Huffaker and Layne and Diana Clarke.

A friend of the victims remembered them as great people, adding, “People that, if there was more people like them in this world, this world would be a different place, no doubt about it.” He also called Clarke “a great pilot.”

NTSB found the pilot’s logbook showed 396 hours of flight experience, including 196 hours in the plane that crashed.

A newly released NTSB report on the crash stated the pilot lost control shortly after takeoff, although it did not find an exact cause.

According to the report, less than one minute after the plane left the runway at Ogden-Hinckley Airport, the pilot told control, “Hey, I’m going down, zero-whiskey-bravo.”

The report also revealed that mechanics who heard the plane take off said “the sound was unusual,” and they noticed “the engine sounded underpowered and that the tail of the airplane was moving up and down as if the pilot was struggling to keep the airplane airborne.”

The airplane might have exceeded its intended maximum weight as well. The report said the estimated weight of the plane, including baggage and the people on board, was slightly above the maximum gross weight recorded two years before the crash.

The maximum gross weight of the plane was 3,833 lbs., according to the report. The NTSB estimated the plane’s weight at the time of the crash to be 3,853 lbs., 20 lbs. heavier.

The report does not conclude whether or not that contributed to the loss of control or the cause of the crash.

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