Two Killed In USU Aviation Plane Crash

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Two people were killed in the crash of a Utah State University (USU) aviation program Cessna 152 on Friday morning. The university identified them as USU flight instructor Blake Shumway and aviation student Michael Carpenter. The aircraft went down between Mendon and Wellsville, Utah, at approximately 9 a.m. local time.

“We are devastated by this morning’s tragic crash and the loss of members in our USU community,” said USU President Noelle Cockett. “Every student and employee is part of our Aggie family, and we know many individuals will feel this loss deeply.”

According to USU, Shumway began working for the university’s aviation program in September 2021. Carpenter, who was majoring in aviation technology, was expected to graduate in fall 2022. The school stated that it has canceled all further flights on Friday and will be offering counseling and other services to employees and students in the USU Aviation program. Further details about the crash have not yet been released. The NTSB is investigating the accident.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. I too am saddened by this news. However, I thought the Cessna 152 was retired as a trainer years ago. Well, at least they were by me. As well as the fact that the last time they were made was 1985. I remember trying to get one past 3000 feet with my instructor on a hot humid day. The plane wasn’t going to do it. I can only imagine what the performance of this plane was in Utah during the summer months. It will be interesting to see what the accident report finds. But let’s make no mistakes. Weight and balance, along with density altitudes in summer, and a 152 isn’t the best choice of aircraft to fly.

    • Density altitude in Logan UT is 6000 ft today… and the mountains surround that area up to 10,000 ft AGL. So we’ll above the Cessna 152 capability of getting out of that valley. The other problem is that they were on the down wind side of the western mountain range. They were likely pushed into the ground from rolling wind over the crest of the mountains.
      My father trained there in Logan UT in Aug 1943. He noted how the afternoon flying was very bumpy due to the high moisture level from snow melt in that valley and the high temps making it hard as his first time driving anything (he learned to fly before he ever drove a car).
      I was just out there two weeks ago. Beautiful place, but unforgiving if you don’t know what you are doing.

  2. Weird… I was just there flying with their instructors.
    Logan UT is a very pretty place to fly, but extremely unforgiving if you fly into the mountains. They fly Diamond aircraft and Robinson helicopters there. Very high density altitude in that area. Hot and high… not good for performance around tall mountains.

  3. I have a comment: the FAA shall include in the mandatory W/B prior to T/O, besides the CG, the departure and landing airports density altitudes at the expected departure/arrival times. What do you think about that??? would it may save some lives (or airplanes, at least?) Fred,

  4. I wish the Cessna Mafia would end their propaganda and tell people to stop sending their kids to schools that fly antique aircraft. I do not know whether the age or design was the proximate cause here, but we all know the numbers. Only when schools stop perpetuating the myth will it change. Cessnas are only the best trainers because no one wants to do the work to figure out how to market and maintain the safer planes. At least we could put the kids in newer models.

    And please, let’s not have any responses based on fallacies. We know we can have safer planes because Diamond designed and made them. There’s no reason Textron cannot be made to either put up or shut down. I don’t know how light aircraft are about the only thing not made safer each decade in this country. Looking at you FAA.

  5. The Cessna 152 (from 1978) used only for spin training at Utah State University was very old and rickety. The students all called it the “death box” and knew it was only a matter of time before it crashed. The aviation students all dreaded spin training day. My student pilot had the scariest flight in the Cessna 152 when the CFI almost didn’t recover from the spin maneuver he was demonstrating. This was only 2 month before this crash. Safer planes for spin training would be a great idea. This is a tragic loss. Wake up USU. Heartbreaking!

  6. As far as spinning goes an airworthy C-152 is a pussycat. They stop on a dime just with neutral rudder.
    It is a lazy climber though. Sometimes, a spin snaps tight on entry you chuck the turns you wanted to do out the window and start recovery immediately without delay. You better have that extra altitude under you!!!!
    Not every 200hr whippersnapper CFI gonna know that or even high timer without much aerobatics experience.
    DA and human nature: Just watched a passenger vid of a SR22 doing 2 rolls with four aboard, one at night. Two jobs they can’t farm out abroad, mortician and NTSB investigator.

    • I’m not sure if you are familiar with this location, but the airport is above 4000 MSL. I was out there flying just before this happened in an R22. The density altitude was above 6000 ft at airport level. The mountain range just west of where they crashed is almost 10,000 ft MSL.
      Flying a Cessna at sea level is fine. I had to spin every time out during my flight training at St. Mary’s MD in a Cessna 150. It was easy at sea level… now try it at 8000 ft density altitude… if you can get it up there on a hot day… and recover before 6500 ft density altitude…
      This isn’t sea level training going on out there. This is high altitude training.
      Even the instructor I was with was mentioning how sea level pilots couldn’t fly out there worth a crap.