ELY, Nev. — Air traffic controllers lost contact with a small plane in bad weather before it crashed in eastern Nevada this month, killing a couple from Moffat County.
The National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary accident report Wednesday 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.
The NTSB said Bethell was instructed to remain above 10,500 feet because of an active military area but he continued to descend to a lower elevation because of the weather.
An Ely resident who lives near the airport told the NTSB the weather was so bad he couldn’t see the house next door when he heard a low-flying plane.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Linda Bethell, 66, also died in the crash.
It’s the third deadly crash with Colorado connections involving a Cirrus SR22 in the past 17 months.
In May, a Grand Junction veterinarian was killed when the Cirrus SR22 he was piloting went down near the Stepping Stone Subdivision between Parker and Interstate 25 shortly after takeoff from Centennial Airport.
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.
Cirrus SR22s are equipped with a ballistic parachute recovery system known as Cirrus Airframe Recovery System.