Crash investigation moves to Denver

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The wreckage of a Lancair Columbia turboprop airplane that crashed Saturday night north of Walton Peak on Rabbit Ears Pass, killing the pilot and passenger, will be moved to Denver for further investigation, said Jennifer Kaiser of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Moving the wreckage to an NTSB site in Denver would allow testing of the plane's frame and engine, she said.

Kaiser said she spent about six hours Monday taking initial reports and inspecting the crash scene. She confirmed that Greg Kyprios, 41, of Steamboat Springs, was piloting the plane. Passenger Luis Marina of Steamboat Springs also was killed in the crash.

Kaiser said she would look into Kyprios' background to ensure he was a licensed pilot and had received proper training, including instruction in night aviation.

The investigation also would consider factors such as weather and terrain, and potential problems with the airplane's flight systems and other devices that may have contributed to the crash, she said.

A preliminary report about the accident is expected to be available on the board's Web site within three days, but the probable cause likely will not be available for about six months, she said.

Kyprios canceled instrument flight rules about 20 minutes before the accident, Kaiser said. Those rules govern how pilots fly in situations when they may not be able to see and avoid obstacles and other air traffic.

Kaiser said it would be difficult to determine whether the aircraft ran out of fuel because both its fuel tanks were destroyed.

The crash was reported at 7:30 p.m. Saturday by a hunter who called 911 from his cell phone. Dustin Woods of Denver reported seeing a plane flying dangerously low near Walton Peak, hearing sputtering and what sounded like several loud backfires. Then, Woods said, the area was silent.

Routt County Search and Rescue searched for the men and the plane until 1:30 a.m. Sunday but were unable to find them.

The Civil Air Patrol began to search for the plane at 8 a.m. A local pilot took two Search and Rescue members in his helicopter to search for the plane, as well.

The plane was found at 10:37 a.m. by helicopter.

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