CAP Pilot with Poor Judgment Kills Himself in Snake River Canyon

Civil Air PatrolFormer local Fletcher Anderson died recently while piloting a plane in Wyoming. (Courtesy Jackson Hole News & Guide)

By Whitney Royster | Star-Tribune

JACKSON – An experienced Jackson pilot died Friday after his small plane apparently clipped a river gauging wire in the Snake River Canyon, flipping the plane and causing it to crash into the river.

Fletcher F. Anderson, 57, died on impact when his Cessna 182R [N9928H] hit the thick cable, which is strung between trees low on the river to gauge river height. Anderson was flying the plane close to the water through the canyon on his way from Jackson to Afton. The plane went down near Wolf Creek, about 10 miles north of Alpine.  Anderson was the sole occupant of the four-seat aircraft.

The crash happened at 8:55 a.m. An officer from the Wyoming Highway Patrol was on a routine traffic stop in the area when he heard a “strange sound” coming from the river canyon, according to Lt. Tom Kelly, division supervisor of the patrol.

The sound of the plane flying through the canyon “caught his attention,” Kelly said, and he “went over (to the canyon side of the highway) because it sounded unusual, and he found what he didn’t want to find.”

Anderson’s plane was about 200 yards downstream from the wire, upside-down in the river. The wing was 100 yards upstream from the main cabin.  Rescuers said Anderson died on impact. Officials did not know why he was flying low in the canyon.

Anderson was a member of the Civil Air Patrol and was flying to Afton to pick up Doug Henry, also of the CAP and a member of Star Valley Search and Rescue, for a training flight.

Probable Cause & Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the pilot’s intentional low level flight/maneuver. A contributing factor was his exercising poor judgment.

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