Fatal crash report: Pilot was not instrument rated during low-visibility flight
The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report on the fatal plane crash that killed a Fort Collins family late Sept. 15 north of Glenwood Springs. The report provides added detail of itinerary, weather conditions and circumstances from that night.
The plane departed at 7:21 p.m. from the Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport with a destination of Moab, Utah. It was flown by a private pilot, Jeff Makepeace, 47, who the report states was not instrument rated. This means that the private pilot did not have additional qualifications pilots must need to fly under Instrument Flight Rules.
Passengers were Makepeace’s wife Jennifer, 45, their 10-year-old twins, Addison and Benjamin, and a family dog.
After departing, the airplane then headed west before going southwest after reaching an altitude of 11,000 feet mean sea level. When the plane was about ten miles northeast of Glenwood Springs, the plane turned northwest, climbed to 12,000 feet and continued for 12 more miles. It was after that that the plane headed southwest again and started to gradually descend.
Radar data was last captured at 8:09 p.m., about a quarter mile south of the accident site location, according to the report.
A search was initiated after family members reported the plane overdue in Moab.
According to the report, the site was visually located at 11:37 p.m.
The crash site occurred in “rocky and tree covered mountainous terrain,” according to the report. Trees were sheared down near the crash site, and the plane burned as it hit the ground.
A weather station near the accident site reported low visibility of a half-mile, with overcast and fog. Winds were moderate at 12-26mph.
All passengers on the plane died.
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.