Last month, two fatal general aviation accidents in Arizona happened within hours of each other, killing a total of six teens and young adults. One crash occurred near Sedona, killing four people and sparking a wildfire in the area. The second crash, which occurred near the Utah/Arizona border in Littlefield, killed two teenaged brothers from Utah: Daulton Whatcott, 19, and his younger brother Jaxon Whatcott, 16.
The Whatcotts had taken off from Bountiful’s SkyPark Airport, and after a quick stop in Beaver, UT to avoid bad weather, were on their way to Mesquite, AZ to attend Jaxon’s basketball tournament in Las Vegas. Daulton had just received his private pilot’s license this May.
Witnesses report seeing the 1969 Cessna 172 the Whatcotts were flying in the Virgin River Gorge canyon near Interstate 15 at a very low altitude, approximate 100 feet above the ground. The plane appeared to turn slightly and invert, striking a canyon wall.
While the National Transportation Safety Board will not release a final report on the crash for several months, investigators have released their preliminary findings on the crash, citing low altitude and extremely windy conditions as primary factors leading to the crash. The nearest airport conditions at the time reported winds gusting to nearly 20 knots, and wind conditions in the canyon were even windier. Temperatures were above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the crash.
The Arizona aviation accident attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten extend their deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jaxon and Daulton Whatcott.