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Wind may have contributed to deadly Adams County plane crash

Thursday, June 30th, 2011 2:24pm MDT

The tail of the airplane is about all that was left after a deadly plane crash in Adams County. Yesterday’s thunderstorms brought powerful winds and lightning to the Colorado Front Range and may have been part of the reason for a plane crash in Adams County.  The small plane crashed in a field near Thornton killing its pilot.

The single-engine Cessna 182, owned by Jewel Aviation of Marshfield, Wisconsin, went down in a field near 124th Avenue and Quebec Street.  The pilot is believed to have been killed instantly when the plane exploded on impact.

The flight had just taken off from Front Range Airport approximately 20 miles away from the crash site.  Witnesses described seeing the plane struggling to stay airborne as it approached the field surrounded by residential homes.

Resident Catherine Von Axelson told 9News, “All of a sudden, this great big gust of wind hit.  His wing just completely flipped up and he nosedived into the ground and the plane exploded.”

Dry thunderstorms were moving through the area at the time of the crash.  Lightning from the storms sparked fires in the foothills and injured two National Guard airmen at Buckley Air Force Base.

The crash reportedly occurred at 3:25pm.  At that same time, ThorntonWeather.com reported gusts approaching 35 mph less than two miles from the crash site.  The owner of the station said that the actual gusts were likely much higher but measurements from the wind instrument are inhibited by nearby trees.

Microbursts, powerful straight line winds, often accompany Colorado’s thunderstorms and present a particular hazard to aviation.  Soon after the crash Denver International Airport halted takeoffs and landings and the facility reported a gust of 72mph.

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