Arizona Accident Pilot Arrested In Utah After Four Years At Large


The St George News (Utah) reported today (Jan.10) that, as the result of a traffic stop, the Utah State Highway Patrol has arrested a man facing charges related to a four-year-old fatal aircraft accident. Arizonan Christopher Anderson, 47, was wanted on federal charges including involuntary manslaughter related to the crash of a 1958 Piper PA-22 he was flying in January 2019. The passenger, his girlfriend of 3.5 years, was killed.

Among other discrepancies related to the accident investigation, FAA records revealed that Anderson was issued a student pilot certificate in 2014, but despite numerous reports that he regularly flew with passengers, he had never been issued a private pilot’s certificate. In addition, Anderson failed to report to the FAA that he has been an insulin-dependent diabetic since 2002 and used an insulin pump for self-treatment. While there has been significant progress in enabling diabetic pilots to fly legally, without a waiver, such a condition is still disqualifying for a pilot medical certificate. Heidi Dowland, 38, Anderson’s girlfriend, was the non-pilot owner of the aircraft and was Anderson’s passenger on the fatal flight. She reportedly bought the TriPacer for Anderson to fly.

According to information from numerous sources cited in Kathryn’s Report, the accident flight was the second leg of a trip that began at Meadview, Arizona, where Dowland had a lake house, stopping for fuel at Kingman Municipal Airport (KIGM) and on to Glendale Municipal Airport (KGEU) to meet with Dowland’s sister. The couple had flown from their home base, Prescott Municipal Airport (KPRC), the previous afternoon to Pearce Ferry Airport (L25), a dirt airstrip in Meadview, to attend a birthday party for a friend at a local bar.

Based on a text from Dowland to her sister, the trip to Glendale launched from Pearce Ferry Airport at around 10 a.m. the next day. It remains unclear whether Anderson actually refueled the TriPacer at Kingman about a half-hour after leaving L25, but he later told first responders that 10 minutes after takeoff from Kingman, the engine lost power and he tried to return to the airport. It crash-landed in rough terrain, rolled over, and ended up on its back in a ravine. Dowland died at the scene and Anderson was seriously injured. He crawled from the wreckage and walked to a road where a motorist spotted him and called 911. Anderson was transported to a local hospital and later moved to a larger hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The examination of the aircraft showed no evidence of fuel in the tanks or surrounding ground. It also revealed that both fuel caps were missing, drawing investigators to the conclusion that Anderson failed to replace them after fueling—or attempting to fuel—and that whatever fuel was in the tanks quickly siphoned off in flight. As a result, an official cause of the accident is listed as fuel exhaustion.

Though the party reportedly lasted into the early morning hours, Anderson’s emergency treatment revealed no evidence of excessive alcohol but did reveal that his blood sugar level was two times normal, suggesting he had used his insulin pump recently. Anderson was uncooperative in the investigation, including refusing to supply documentation of pilot credentials. He was ultimately charged by a federal court in Arizona with one count of involuntary manslaughter within an aircraft jurisdiction and a second count of registration violations involving aircraft, according to the arrest warrant quoted by the St George paper. According to the report, he is scheduled to make an initial appearance in St. George (Utah) District Court tomorrow (Jan. 11) and is currently on federal hold in a local jail.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.


    • It was an accident; none of the broken rules were causal. Having ratings has, unfortunately, not stopped fuel exhaustion accidents.

      • It was not an accident! It was a caused occurrence! He caused the incident all by himself, fuel issue, medical issue, and no ticket equals “ No accident!”

          • Unfortunately, medical issues CAN and DO cause accidents. This aircraft operator wasn’t a pilot. He was a deadly event waiting to happen.

            Lack of proficiency and basic knowledge of fuel systems likewise contribute to accidents. Both proficiency and knowledge were severely lacking in this fatal (and easily preventable) event.

          • He was out drinking until 2 in the morning. Insulin dependent and found with a very high blood sugar. He was impaired, should not have been flying. The clown sounds like a real pillar of society. Owed the IRS 1.4 million, conned this poor woman not only into buying a plane but changing her insurance policies to name him as sole beneficiary. Manslaughter is probably to light of a indictment for him.

      • Bologna. This was a deliberate, willful, and wanton act(s) to purposely circumvent the FARs done only for his own selfish purposes and motives, i.e.: To pilot an aircraft as PIC when he knew he was legally, physically and probably mentally incapable. FAR violations done purposely by him on all levels; No PPL, no Medical, no BFR, most likely no proper knowledge of PA-22 Tripacer fuel system (main tanks, auxiliary tank), and reduced mental acuity from insulin/diabetes.

          • You can assume a crash like this will happen to someone with no regard for the regulations or laws. Running out of fuel does happen from time to time but it is almost always due to carelessness and not following the FARs. This clown broke them in spades.

          • If he have followed the regs (which haven’t been called “FARs” for nearly two decades) he wouldn’t have been flying, thus, no accident.

      • This was not an accident. This fool should not have been flying a plane with a passenger. The article in the Kathryn report said he had been flying for years. His behavior exhibits a complete disregard for any rules and that is what took the life of a mother of three.

  1. Not an excuse but if you buy your boyfriend an aircraft and let him fly it without checking that he has the required license, that’s not really prudent either.

  2. ERRATA:
    1. insulin dependency is NOT “disqualifying” for a PPL if the pilot can show by HgbA1C and other testing it is well controlled without significant visual or other impairment.
    2. The high glucose reading did NOT “suggest he used his insulin pump recently” but the opposite: that the automatic device was damaged or even pulled out from and knocked off of his body during the crash or crawl.

    Vs 152/172, the two and four seat. PA-22 series glides like a brick power off so unsurprising it crashed into a rock crevice vs a more suitable area.
    The cockpit is relatively well protected by a steel tube “roll cage” so occupant restraint usage here is suspect.
    This type of extended anti-authority operation is likely to become MORE rather than less common in the current political climate, especially in Arizona, Texas, and Florida.

    • You made some great points but do not understand your suggestion that Arizona, Texas, and Florida residents will contribute more to this lawlessness than others will. Seems to be more prevalent everywhere I go.

    • A glide ratio of 9:1 is about the same as all other high wing strut braced trainers. That is the only “attitude” that is relevant during a fuel exhaustion accident.

    • Good post until you went off the rails by implying that Republicans are evil law-breakers. But I enjoyed the chuckle – at your expense.

    • To clarify: While this individual chose to conceal his condition in direct violation of regulations (and the NTSB did not determine that he was, in fact, impaired at the time of the accident), pathways are opening up for diabetic pilots. He chose not to follow them.

      14 CFR 67.313(a) is still in effect (see below)…

      “67.313 General medical condition.
      The general medical standards for a third-class airman medical certificate are:
      (a) No established medical history or clinical diagnosis of diabetes mellitus that requires insulin or any other hypoglycemic drug for control.”

      …but I also found this informative article, apparently addressing waivers.

      …quoted in part here re U.S. protocols (there is also a table displaying requirements from several countries’ aviation authorities, including the U.S.):

      5.4 United States
      “Initial applicants in the United States need to demonstrate at least 6 months of stability and adequate control using CGM [continuous glucose monitoring] data on a device that meets FAA requirements. A longer period is required for those recently diagnosed. Finger-prick data for the previous 90 days is also required. They must also submit blood tests, including HbA1c, full blood count, and biochemical and lipid profiles. Eye and cardiac evaluation are required, including stress electrocardiograms for those over 40 years old. The applicant must undertake a medical examination with an examiner and all the information is submitted to the FAA for consideration.

      “Following successful certificate issue, there is frequent follow-up with the submission of 3 monthly endocrinology and blood test reports that are collected and submitted to the FAA every 6 months, along with notification of flying activity, CGM data, and a record of any in-flight actions required to maintain blood glucose levels within an acceptable range. Regular eye and cardiology reviews are also required. Pilots may use insulin pumps as long as they have the ability to suspend insulin for predictive low glucose or predicted pressure changes. Both pumps and CGM devices must be US Food and Drug Administration-approved and compatible with each other.”

      I hope this helps clarify the issue.

    • You didn’t read Kathryn’s report here the family clearly stated they knew he was a diabetic and used an insulin pump. Those statements were dated 2/12/2019.

    • Well, we just had the YouTube hero that intentionally crashed his Taylorcraft here in the People’s Republic of CA… I don’t think the red states have the lock on stupidity in the air.

  3. Thank you Wise Old Man for correcting the inaccuracies and misconceptions about diabetes.
    How would I know? Someone very dear and close to me lives a very full and productive life (more so than many of his contemporaries) despite having to deal with this condition from his youth. If he didn’t tell you you’d never know he had it. It all comes down to dealing with it; some do it well and the effects are essentially nil, others don’t handle it and the consequences are significant.
    Come to think of it it’s a bit like alcohol, exercise, sleep and a number of other issues that we all need to manage.
    And you are right about some of this becoming more common.
    There is no excuse for flouting regulations and safety but in reality I’d suggest that a huge number of us are breaking the rules every day. Life has gotten so regulated that pretty much everything we do is controlled by some bureaucracy with their set of rules, the full scope of which it is near impossible for a productive and hard working individual to keep up with. Add into this reality the fact that mostly the regulation is done by those who can’t actually do what we are skilled at and it’s little wonder that a certain percentage of the populace simply says “to hell with it”. It’s not right but it’s totally understandable.

    • Though I agree with you that there are so many rules and regulations many of us break some law or violate some regulation every day without knowing it. But this clown knew what he was doing, he lied on his medical application. His last medical was 2014, 5 years before the accident. He knew he was flying illegally. He flew a third passenger in a lawn chair in the baggage compartment, again violating regulations knowingly. There is no defense for this clown.

  4. Would Mr. Anderson be eligible to hold an AZ state drivers license?

    Just curious, because I suspect that at least some of the people who argue that they really don’t need a Third Class medical to fly an airplane because they can monitor their own health adequately and who suggest that a Drivers License in lieu of a medical is plenty good, really don’t meet medical standards.

    Mind you, the the cause of this accident is not pilot incapacitation, but rather fuel exhaustion (not a completely novel way of having an accident, nor the exclusive domain of those who don’t meet medical standards).

    • Abnormal blood sugar can contribute to forgetting to replace fuel caps. One of the tricks careless diabetics use to offset a candy bar or other indulgence, is to increase dosage of insulin in conjunction. This behavior is dangerous both long term and short term, just for the sake of being able to eat whatever is desired. Also, if Mr. Anderson had been feeling an onset of low blood sugar during refueling (beginning of incapacitation), he may have eaten a high sugar snack to compensate, thus his blood sugar would have been exactly as described. Mr. Anderson seems to have all the traits of a person who would manage his diabetes carelessly. Seen this behavior many times in 34 years as a firefighter medic.

  5. Thank you Mark for the complete report and link. It provided some additional details that you didn’t have the space to report on. Good job and it’s appreciated.

  6. you wrote:
    “insulin-dependent diabetic since 2002 and used an insulin pump for self-treatment. Such a condition is disqualifying for a pilot certificate.”

    This is incorrect.
    You can get even a Class 1 Medical as an insulin dependent pilot and also if you use an insulin pump.

    @Mrk Phelps
    Please correct you story pronto.


  7. Sorry, I don’t have much sympathy for this guy. Sounds like an arrogant man-boy who had his girlfriend pay for everything.

  8. “On October 30, 2018, the passenger purchased the airplane. An FAA “deregistration” letter dated December 31, 2018, that was addressed to the passenger stated that the registration was suspended because it had not been renewed following the October 2018 transfer/sale to her.”—NTSB.
    Nothing at all involving this A/C, or Legal Licensing of the Pilot -Boyfriend of the deceased girlfriend owner of the PA-22 were in compliance with any of the pertinent FARs. Logbooks were never found. A/C was not current in regs / annualed / inspected. Witnesses to the flying habits of the deceased girlfriend owner passenger revealed no shoulder harness (seatbelt too?) usage. Prior rear seat passenger stated that a ” short beach chair ” was used as the rear seat since there was no actual FAA approve rear seat/sling installed. Rear seat pax also had no seat belt to utilize.

  9. Straight to jail for this asshole!
    He has a serious disregard for any type of rules, and that he should be able to do as he damn well please, regardless of who he may hurt in the process of doing whatever he wants to do.

    • John Q. Public unfortunately will see his behavior as typical of light plane pilots, given the inevitable media exposure…

  10. If changing her insurance policies to name him as sole beneficiary is indeed true then intentionally crashing the plane sure sounds more likely than not – if that can be proven is of course another question. In any case, glad he’s being processed.

  11. A blood sugar level that “was two times normal” only allows an inference that he had received some insulin in the preceding few hours (without any insulin, an insulin-dependent diabetic will experience increasing blood sugar and enter an impaired state called diabetic ketoacidosis, which would have required intensive treatment). Further, a blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL (twice normal) has no effect on cognition or decision making (that is, not all “abnormal” blood sugar levels contribute to forgetfulness).

    It is not reckless to take extra insulin when a sugar load is expected (ie, after eating a candy bar). It is, in fact, clinically appropriate and is done all the time.

    Speculation that the pilot ate (or did not eat) a sugar meal or did (or did not take insulin) when fueling the airplane is just that, speculation. Also, we don’t know what kind of insulin pump he had or whether it was working properly.

    All we know, as mentioned above, is that his blood sugar – when measured in the hospital (presumably in the hospital) – was not sufficiently elevated to cause any cognitive or “executive function” impairment.

    Plenty of reasons to believe that Mr. Anderson should not be PIC of any airplane. His diabetes is not necessarily one of them.

    (I am an internal medicine physician with 40 years of experience.)

  12. R100RS Thank you for further correction and clarification for others (I am currently on an insulin pump) on diabetics with insulin pumps. As a further data point the FAA states that a flight may be undertaken with a blood glucose level between 100 mg/dl and 300 mg/dl).
    Cognitive difficulties occur most prevalently with low blood glucose levels, although excessively high levels can cause coma, or even death. FAA also refers to “glucose snack” as immediate treatment for mildly low glucose levels. A candy bar is now, and has been a method for increasing glucose levels for over 60 years that I am aware of. It is most unfortunate that those who do not possess factual knowledge of a subject still feel compelled to pontificate on it. I thought that pilots were better than that.

    • C Michael Hoover, thank you for providing the FAA blood sugar requirements for flight.

      You are correct, of course, that low blood sugar levels can (and when low enough, will) affect brain function leading to impaired cognitive function. Also, as you know, most insulin dependent diabetic people are very familiar with the early symptoms of dropping blood sugar and manage it effectively and responsibly with oral sugar (ie, a candy bar).

      Internet pontification is a national sport. Pilots appear to be as prone to it as everyone else.

  13. @Jdawg, @dbier, @AlMac Shared fact not “views”. Whether due to adoration of and obeisance toward their criminal insurrectionist orange guru OR ambition OR projecting as camouflage for their own authoritarianism and ineptness, the current/recent governors of those three states lead the nation in denigrating our Constitutionally structured, empowered, and elected federal government and its agencies. Y’all don’t think that increases the level of imitative behavior among gullible, lower IQ individual residents manifested by ultimately dangerous, sociopathic, and self-destructive regulatory noncompliance?
    @Arthur J.Foyt I have owned and instructed in PA22 series and entry level Cessnae aircraft as well as high bperformance twins. Unsure where you got your glide ratio numbers because the real world is unaware as yet. Don’t take MY word for it. Even proud owners in the ShortWingPipers and BackCountryFlyers organizations agree:
    I have about 200hrs in my PA 22/20-160. The glide ratio is very poor. I have been pulling the power lately when in the vicinity of the airport and trying to make the runway. Even now, I am surprised by how fast the airplane comes down
    From my experience flying a PA-22/20 the pacer has a glide ratio somewhere between a rock and grand piano. They don’t float like a cessna does. That being said there are a kick in the pants to fly!

    • Run out of gas in a motor glider, and you’ll land/crash eventually. I don’t see how glide ratio has much to do with this crash. He was lucky to have been flying a steel tube fuselage bird. Shame he survived and his hapless pax didn’t but that’s life.

  14. I suspect the number of regulatory scofflaws flying around out there is larger than might be expected. As long as they behave themselves & don’t do something stupid, like crashing, the chance of getting caught at it is pretty low.

    As far as the PA-22 glide characteristics are concerned, I recall enjoying the benign stall characteristics by slowing up and doing helicopter-style sink rates to the threshold. A last moment nose dip would recover enough energy for a flare.

    • The Pawnee is fun for that, too. Probably the sweetest handling single I have flown- but just a brick power-off. Other than the fuselage fuel tank I felt very safe in them.

  15. I think the percentage of scofflaws differs by where you are. Middle of nowhere, nobody around, like Alaska or where this chap was from, you probably have all kinds of yayhoos out there either unlicensed or suspended/revoked. I know people who have flown instruments without the rating and I’m sure there are all kinds of shenanigans we never read about.

    How about this tidbit: 14% of all drivers on the road, about 1 in 8, is either unlicensed or suspended/revoked. Now ponder that as you look around you in traffic. I wonder what it really is in the air.