September 13, 2012, Strawberry, Ariz., Piper PA-28-181, Archer II/III


The airplane collided with wooded terrain within a canyon at about 1453 Mountain time. The student pilot, flight instructor and private pilot-rated passenger sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was consumed by a post-impact fire. Visual conditions prevailed.

The student pilot was enrolled in the KLM Flight Academy flight training program and was undergoing a phase check. The airplane did not return at the expected time, and became the subject of an Alert Notice about 1800. The Civil Air Patrol, utilizing radar data and network-based cell phone signal analysis, located the wreckage at about 2100 on September 14.

Preliminary radar data revealed the airplane taking off and initiating a climbing right turn to the north, climbing to 3300 feet msl. About 50 miles north, the target turned north-northeast and climbed to 5600 feet. It then entered a northeast-oriented canyon. The last minute of radar data indicated a climb to 5800 feet. The wreckage was at about 5800 feet, four miles beyond the last radar target, and was surrounded to the north, east and south by steep canyon walls, rising to about 6800 feet.


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