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Plane crash in Huerfano County kills pilot

Gardner, Colorado
Posted at 12:47 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 14:49:43-05

HUERFANO COUNTY — A kit plane crashed in a remote area northeast of Walsenburg around 10:30 a.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Huerfano County Sheriff received a call about the crash around noon, and they were told that the crash was located in the Cuchara River Canyon area of north eastern Huerfano County.

Huerfano County confirmed today that the plane was civilian, and that the pilot, the only person on board, died as a result of the crash. Initial reports claimed the aircraft was military and that there were multiple fatalities, but those were incorrect.

The 'actual' reporting parties were two other aircraft who were flying in the area at the time and witnessed the crash.

The plane was a single-engine Vans RV-4, which is a homebuilt kit plane. The FAA said the plane crashed northeast of Spanish Peaks Airfield around 10:30 a.m., which is just northeast of Walsenburg and south of Pueblo.

The recovery efforts were paused on December 8 due to dangerous wind conditions, difficult terrain, and lack of light. They were resumed on December 9 at 8 A.M. by Huerfano County Sheriff's Deputies, Search and Rescue, and an NTSB aircraft accident investigator.

After rescuers were able to recover the body, the Huerfano County Coroner's Office confirmed that the pilot was 70 year old Michael Vaughn Cranford of Peyton, Colorado.

The extraction of the body was done by a Flight For Life helicopter due to the difficult terrain and difficulties of a prolonged ground recovery operation.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, and the NTSB will lead the investigation and provide further updates.
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