Teen Survives Mountain Crash (With Video)

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photo: McKenzie Morgan (from video)

photo: McKenzie Morgan (from video)

Seventeen-year-old student pilot McKenzie Morgan, while flying part of a long cross country Tuesday, crashed the Cessna 172 she was flying in mountains near Meeteetse, Wyo., not far from a cabin once owned by Amelia Earhart and, fortunately, within sight of two hunters. Morgan told reporters she had become disoriented, flying in nearly the opposite direction of her intended destination. She entered a valley with rising terrain that evolved into a box canyon. The plane eventually impacted the ground near 13,150-foot Francs Peak and the aircraft flipped. Morgan sustained almost no injuries in the crash, extracted herself and then took some rather practical steps. 

After climbing out of the inverted aircraft, Morgan tried unsuccessfully to contact someone using the aircraft's radio. Then, believing that investigators would be able to extract GPS coordinates from digital photos, she took pictures of the crash site and followed those with a short video. The purpose of the video, she told the Billings Gazette, was to prepare for the worst, tell her family that she loved them and apologize for what she put them through. Fortunately, two hunters who saw the plane impact the mountainside had already taken action. They split up. One sought an area with cellphone reception to report the accident, and the other headed to the crash site on horseback, ultimately rescuing Morgan. Morgan told the Gazette she plans to continue flying as soon as possible so that she can earn her private pilot certificate. But she remains unsure of what restrictions she might face from her school and the FAA. 

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