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Mon, Oct 20, 2008

Pilot Lost In Lancair Downing Near Southern UT Airport

Wife Survives, Severely Injured In Saturday Accident

The pilot of a Lancair Legacy was killed, and his passenger critically injured, when the aircraft crashed for unknown reasons Saturday afternoon in southern Utah.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports William Phillips and his wife, Janice, took off from Parowan Airport (IL9) bound for Las Vegas, NV. Initial reports state the aircraft experienced mechanical trouble soon thereafter.

Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower said the aircraft crashed about one mile north of the runway, at around 1:45 pm local time Saturday. Gower said it appears the pilot was attempting to return to the airport when the aircraft (shown below) crashed.

"It looks like it came in nose first," Gower said. "At this point, it is speculated that the crash was caused by mechanical failure."

Investigator Tony Gower told the St. George Daily Spectrum the aircraft largely disintegrated on impact. "It didn't burn, but the plane hit the ground at a high rate of speed," he said.

Local reports state Bill Phillips survived the initial crash, but later died at the scene. His wife was airlifted to a hospital in Murray, UT with broken bones and internal injuries. She is presently listed in critical condition.

The FAA and NTSB were on the scene Sunday to conduct parallel investigations into the accident.

IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 151HT        Make/Model: EXP       Description: LANCAIR LEGACY
  Date: 10/18/2008     Time: 1903

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Fatal     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Destroyed

LOCATION
  City: PAROWAN   State: UT   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT CRASHED UNDER UNKNOWN CIRCUMSTANCES, THERE WERE TWO PERSONS ON
  BOARD, ONE WAS FATALLY INJURED, AND ONE SUSTAINED SERIOUS INJURIES,
  PAROWAN, UT

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   1
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   1     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   
                 # Pass:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   1     Min:   0     Unk:   
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   

WEATHER: CDC 181953Z METAR AUTO 17010G21KT 10SM CLR 23/M07 A3021

OTHER DATA
  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

FAA FSDO: SALT LAKE CITY, UT  (NM07)            Entry date: 10/20/2008

E-I-C Note: I hate this.One of the tragedies of aviation is that the boundless joys of flight are occasionally tempered by tragedies of incalculable measure.

The Bill Phillips involved in this story is my friend, "Badwater Bill." An accomplished aviator and a person with more opinions than any ten people I know, losing Bill at the "tender" age of 59 is a huge low... and leaves me looking for the right thing to say... and not finding it.

Bill and I started our friendship in the worst possible way (NOT as friends) and through a ponderous series of events, came to value the common bond that ties flyers together... as well as the amazing discourses we ventured upon at various times. Over time, we became really good buddies and got involved in some truly wild shenanigans. Bill was possibly the most unique personality I have ever met, an amazing mind and an irascible old coot who once made me promise that if I ever had to write his obit, that I had to be sure to tell everyone what a 'rat bast*rd' he was.

I can't do it.

Aviation is an amazing community, for all manner of reasons... but it is the variety of personalities that flock to it that are potentially its greatest resource... and Bill was easily one of the most remarkable souls I've ever met.

I'll miss him like hell... and the one thing I can promise is that I'll never forget him. We offer his wife, Janice, our sincere wishes for a full and speedy recovery and our prayers that the days ahead are somewhat softened by the fact there were a lot of people who liked/loved Bill, or were amused by Bill and/or couldn't forget Bill if they tried (and yeah, I think he'd like that description).

Fair winds, Bill... it was a privilege to know ya... -- Jim Campbell, ANN E-I-C.

FMI: www.faa.gov, www.ntsb.gov

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