Plane Crashes into Great Salt Lake

Plane Crashes into Great Salt Lake

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Sammy Linebaugh reportingAn A-4 jet went down shortly before 1 pm Saturday approximately one mile west of Antelope Island.

It was one of three ex-military jets bound for Canada with plans to stop at Hill Air Force Base to refuel.

Steven Kenny, 42, was an ex-Navy pilot who worked for Delta Airlines, and part-time for a military contract company called Advanced Training Systems International.

It was one of ATSI's A-4 jets that went down.

Search and recovery teams spent the afternoon scouring for clues as to what caused the ex-military jet piloted by Kenny to plunge into the water just west of Antelope Island.

Kenneth Payne says, "He declared an in-flight emergency-- didn't describe it to Hill Air Force Base officials. The other pilots reported that they saw him eject from his aircraft, but his parachute failed to deploy."

Kenny was flying alongside two other pilots also employed by Advanced Training Systems International.

The trio left Arizona Saturday morning bound for Canada, where they were scheduled to take part in military training exercises.

It was during the descent, a planned refueling stop at Hill Air Force Base, that officials say Kenny's plane apparently malfunctioned.

His body was found floating about 2:00 pm. A paramedic pronounced him dead at the scene.

The jet itself is completely submerged. And now investigators with the National Transportation and Safety Board have the task of piecing together just what went wrong, both with the aircraft and with the parachute.

"They have the parachute in sight, and the seat and ejection materials. So any floating debris we can get to right now, we're in the process of recovering," said Payne.

An ATSI spokesman confirmed all three of the A-4 jets that were part of the mission are ex-Navy planes built in 1978.

The company is making plans to retrieve the downed jet from the Great Salt Lake as soon as possible, so a formal investigation into the cause of the crash can begin.

That ATSI spokesman, Ken Jensen, also said he deeply regrets the tragedy and offered his sympathies to the family.

Steve Kenny lived most recently in Georgia. He was born and raised in Ogden and has family in Utah. He was not married, and did not have any children.

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