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Pilot expected to recover after crashing plane onto building in Spanish Fork

Posted at 1:29 PM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-15 00:37:35-05

SPANISH FORK, Utah — A small plane crashed into a building in Spanish Fork Friday afternoon.

At around 12:45 p.m, the plane crashed on top of the Mountain Country Food warehouse at 185 East 1600 North, about a quarter-mile away from the Spanish Fork Airport. Emergency crews used a ladder truck to access the roof where the single-engine plane was located.

The 77-year-old male pilot was extricated from the plane with non-life-threatening injuries and airlifted to the hospital in critical condition. Several employees were inside the building at the time of the crash, but they were uninjured.

Photos of the plane show it sitting on top of the building, but not going through any part of the roof.

Both wings are off the plane and there is heavy damage to the engine area.

“My first concern when I saw this and what had happened is, 'I hope he's okay,'” Nicole Robbins told FOX 13.

Robbins is an experienced general aviation pilot and is well-versed with the Spanish Fork Airport.

She says overall, the airport is a great place to fly, and pilots are always watching for things.

“You've got a lot of buildings, and there's a lot of power lines right over there,” she said of the area near the crash. “In the picture that I saw, there's there's a wing that was missing, so I wonder if he clipped something."

She said pilots of any plane must go through extensive safety checks every single time they fly — some even before they get in the cockpit.

“Every time I fly, I'm checking things," Robbins said. “It's something that we have to work around every single day and something that we train for and plan for and obviously try to prevent. But in the case that it's not preventable, we definitely want to be able to spare lives.”

The plane was a Zenith 750 Cruzer, which is a kit plane — meaning it was not manufactured, but hand-built. Many kit planes don't have the same safety features as other aircraft.

“You actually buy the kit and put it together yourself, so it doesn't have all of the same safety precautions that a normal airplane would have,” Robbins said.

The plane appeared to be returning to Spanish Fork Airport when it crashed, Lt. Cory Slaymaker with the Spanish Fork Police said.

The cause of the crash is unknown and will be investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board.

“They'll send a team down to do an investigation," Slaymaker said. "We'll provide them with the information that we've been able to gather.”

But as the wreckage still sits atop the building, Robbins said she's just glad this pilot is alive.

“Airplanes can be replaced,” she said. “You can't replace the human life, and so we really hope that he's OK and I'm glad that it is not life-threatening injuries.”