Pilot disorientation blamed in 2018 fatal crash near Centennial Airport


Residents near plane crash site

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DENVER — Federal investigators have determined that pilot disorientation in difficult weather conditions likely was the cause of a fatal small plane crash near Centennial Airport last year.

The Colorado Sun reports the National Transportation Safety Board says 67-year-old Robert Marquis probably lost control of the Cirrus SR22 he was flying shortly after taking off from Centennial Airport on May 11, 2018.

Marquis was the only person aboard the plane and died in the crash.

The plane Marquis was flying had just completed an annual inspection and he was traveling to meet his family for an event in another state.

The fatal flight lasted only about five minutes.

Marquis was a Grand Junction veterinarian and volunteer member of the Mesa County Search and Rescue Team.

An occupied home was struck by a large piece of debris from the crash near the Stepping Stone Subdivision between Parker and Interstate 25.

The crash left a large debris field in open space near the neighborhood.

It was one of three deadly crashes with Colorado connections involving a Cirrus SR22 in a 17-month period.

In February, air traffic controllers lost contact with a small plane in bad weather before it crashed in eastern Nevada, killing a couple from Moffat County.

The NTSB said the pilot, 72-year-old Phillip Bethell of Moffat County was headed from Craig to Twin Falls, Idaho, on Feb. 15 in a Cirrus SR22 when he diverted toward Ely near the Utah line.

Linda Bethell, 66, also died in the crash.

And in September 2017, a Cirrus SR22 with a Fort Collins family of four aboard crashed about 10 miles north of Glenwood Springs. The man, woman and 10-year-old twins were killed.

In July, the NTSB determined the crash was caused by the pilot’s decision to fly into weather conditions that he was not rated to handle and his lack of pre-takeoff planning, the Colorado Sun reported.

The Sept. 15, 2017, crash killed 47-year-old Jeff Makepeace, his wife, 45-year-old Jennifer, and their 10-year-old twins, Addison and Benjamin. The family’s dog was also killed.

Cirrus SR22s are equipped with a ballistic parachute recovery system known as Cirrus Airframe Recovery System.

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