SUU Flight Instructors Plane Crash
Alan Carver (left) and Nathan Stoddard (right)- Image courtesy of Upper Limit Aviation

Two flight instructors in the Southern Utah University Professional Pilots Program were killed in a plane crash Monday, Oct. 5. The single engine two-seat Cessna 152 aircraft they were flying crashed about 6 miles southwest of the Cedar City Regional Airport about 1 p.m. The bodies of Retired Lt. Col. Command Pilot Alan Carver, age 50, and Nathan Stoddard, age 24, were both found dead on the scene by the Iron County Sheriff Department.

According to reports, the aircraft took off from the Cedar City Airport approximately 11-11:30 a.m. Early reports suggest that they were returning to the airport after a check ride—a check by a senior flight instructor to make sure the junior flight instructor is ready to start instructing his own students—when the crash occurred.

The crash was called into emergency dispatch by residents who live near the location where the plane went down. According to a press release issued by the Iron County Sheriff’s office, Iron County Sheriff’s Deputies, along with Cedar City Fire Department, Utah Highway Patrol, and Gold Cross Ambulance responded to the scene. It is unknown at this time what caused the plane to go down. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified of the crash and will be conducting their investigations into the cause. Representatives from both organizations are expected in Cedar City on Tuesday.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the victims,” said Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower. “I can’t even imagine what they are going through right now.”

SUU President Scott L Wyatt echoed these sentiments in a press release.

“This is an incredibly sad time,” Wyatt stated. “No one is ever prepared for a tragedy like this. Many of our pilots have served our country and we appreciate the service they gave to us. We mourn with the pilots’ families, loved ones, the SUU community and City after such a loss.”

According to SUU spokeswoman Ellen Treanor, the men were flight instructors for the Southern Utah University Professional Pilots Program. Stoddard was a junior instructor and had only been on the job a few days. Carver was a senior flight instructor with over 6000 flight hours.

“The accident was a terrible tragedy,” Treanor said, “a huge loss for our University, the community and especially the families and loved ones of the pilots.”

On the Southern Utah University Facebook page, SUU Provost Bradley Cook stated, “A tragedy of this nature penetrates all of us deeply.”

The Cessna 152 was owned by Upper Limit Aviation, a Utah-based company. Upper Limit Aviation has been a partner of SUU since 2013. The SUU Professional Pilots Program uses six fixed wing aircraft in total. The Cessna 152 has been used in training pilots for decades around the country and is one of the most popular aircraft in flight instruction.

According to the Automated Weather Observation Service, the weather at the time of the crash was overcast with rain showers in the area. The Cedar City Airport is an uncontrolled airport, meaning that there is no control tower. The pilots use AWOS to get weather briefings and information to either take off or land at the airport. It is unknown at this time if a ‘mayday’ or distress call was broadcast over the radio by the aircraft during the final minutes in flight.