Farmington residents recount low-flying plane before Pineview Reservoir crash
Jan 26, 2024, 10:31 PM | Updated: Jan 27, 2024, 9:38 am
FARMINGTON — Witnesses are explaining why a low-flying plane terrified them not long before a crash into Pineview Reservoir Friday.
Both people inside the Cessna survived and escaped as the plane slumped down into the icy water.
The witnesses, who were concerned about the plane’s behavior, said they saw what they believed was the same aircraft flying dangerously low over Farmington.
Parker Vaughan described how he began to hear the buzz of an engine outside over his house, and it was clear the noise was coming toward his home.
“Just the distant ‘zzzzz,’ then it just kept getting louder and louder until finally it was just this deafening, like all-encompassing throughout the whole house ‘ZZZZAAAHHHHH!’” Vaughan said. “It was like machinery screaming at you, and it just sounded as if it was right outside our windows.”
Vaughan thought the plane was crashing right outside his house, which is east of the Lagoon Amusement Park.
“I’m scared for me. I’m scared for my cats. I’m scared for my grandma and my aunt and all that,” he said.
The noise passed, and wondering what the heck that was, Vaughan hopped onto a Farmington Facebook group and made a post about his startle.
“‘It sounded like an airplane almost hit our house,’” Vaughan said, reading his post. “And then, you know, within minutes, people started going like, ‘Yeah, I heard it too.’ And then, ‘I heard it too.’”
Eventually, he said his post was filled with more than 100 comments as people who heard and saw a low-flying Cessna discussed it.
Vaughan said someone even hopped on a flight-tracking website and started following the single-engine fixed-wing that had flown over them.
According to the website FlightAware, the Cessna flew south from Ogden-Hinckley Airport at 10:53 a.m. and landed at Salt Lake City International Airport at 11:12 a.m. It took off from SLC at 11:49 a.m., heading north and back over the same area of Farmington.
Courtney England thought she was watching an emergency landing, saying the plane flew so low next to her house that she could see the pilot through the aircraft’s windows. Her house sits up on the hillside.
“It just came into the view of my window here, and I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh, is that crashing?!’” England said, pointing out her back window. “And then I was able to turn to this window, and see it come through.”
She was under the impression that the plane was having issues and conducting an emergency landing.
“I was watching it go down, wondering if it was going to fly into one of our neighbor’s houses,” she said.
England followed it as far as she could from her window. Eventually, it disappeared. She also hopped on Facebook to see what was happening.
Vaughan said the person tracking the flight was able to share aircraft information. The Cessna is shown as coming to a stop at 12:10 p.m.
“Plane just crashed into Pineview,” Vaughan said of the next update he saw. “What do you mean they just crashed into Pineview?!”
England then saw images of the plane from above, half submerged in the water.
“I looked at it, I’m like, that’s the plane,” she said.
The Weber Fire District said early reports indicate the pilot may have been doing touch-and-go landings on the ice, but that it is still under investigation. Firefighters said the pilot and passenger escaped and swam to the shore using life jackets.
The FAA and U.S. Forest Service are investigating the crash.
It made England and Vaughan wonder what was going on during that flight, and it also made them glad it wasn’t worse.
“You process it for a minute, and you’re thinking, that was really reckless,” England said. “That could have that could have hurt someone.”
“I’m just I’m grateful that they landed where they did,” Vaughan said. “And nobody got hurt, and they got out.”