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EAGLE MOUNTAIN — One man died after a glider-style aircraft crashed at Cedar Valley Airport on Sunday afternoon.
According to Sgt. Cole Christensen of the Utah County Sheriff's Office, police received a report that an aircraft crashed at approximately 2:20 p.m. Christensen described the aircraft as "a glider-type airplane. It looks like an airplane without the motor on it."
The pilot of the aircraft, Jeff Knell, 60, of Salt Lake City, died before police arrived on scene, though it was unclear if the pilot died on impact. Christensen said the pilot was an experienced flyer who was known at the airport.
Eyewitnesses told police the aircraft appeared to have trouble while in flight, which they say could have caused the accident. Christensen said there were three witnesses on scene.
"I saw the glider going around doing a couple loops above us," Glen Black said. Black was driving on Pony Express Parkway when he saw the accident.
"It was really low on the horizon, and it had missed its last turn to make a good approach," Black said.
What happened next, Black can only guess. To him, he said, it looked like the wind caught the right wing of the glider.
"He dipped and went straight into the ground. I saw the tale go up and then dust everywhere," Black said. Black jumped into his car and cut through the field straight to the glider. He found the aircraft in pieces.
"I could see the pilot had been ejected from the plane. He wasn't in good shape. He wasn't moving," Black said.
Two other witnesses and Black took the pilot's pulse, but Black said the pilot had already died. Friends of the pilot told Black it was an experimental aircraft they had built. There allegedly was a problem with the glider about a year ago, but it had been fixed. Whether or not that played any part in causing the accident, investigators don't know.
"Investigations like this take some time because there's a lot of loose ends that need some follow up," Christensen said. Christensen could not provide a definitive timeline due to the nature of the investigation. Police will continue to gather flight and pre-flight information.
Contributing: Dan Jessop