Military jet crashes into lake, killing pilot
By Jennifer Dobner and Derek Jensen
Deseret News staff writers
ANTELOPE ISLAND ó A 1970s era fighter jet crashed into the Great Salt Lake on Saturday, killing the pilot, who ejected from the aircraft but fell to his death when his parachute failed to open.
Philip Steven Kenny
Just before 1 p.m., pilot Philip Steven Kenny, 42, was flying an A-4 Skyhawk military jet alongside two other jets when the accident occurred, Davis County Sheriff's Capt. Kenneth Payne said. The planes are privately owned by Advanced Training Systems International, Inc. of Mesa, Ariz., and were headed to Canada, but had a planned stop at Hill to refuel, Payne said.
ATSI spokesman Ken Jensen said Kenny radioed air traffic controllers at Hill that he was experiencing engine trouble.
"The other pilots reported that they saw him eject from his aircraft. However, his parachute failed to deploy," Payne said.
The other two pilots, also flying A-4 Skyhawks, landed safely at Hill, he said. Their names were not released by authorities.
Kenny's body was recovered by search and rescue workers in a field of floating debris about one mile south and one mile east of Antelope Island's Frary Peak just after 2 p.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic.
The plane is completely submerged in the lake and will be removed by ATSI as part of the crash investigation, Payne said. Searchers also had located Kenny's parachute. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive in Utah today to begin their investigation.
ATSI also will conduct an investigation of its own, Jensen said.
ATSI is a U.S. government contractor that provides military flight training, tactical air training and flight test services to U.S. defense agencies, defense contractors and foreign governments, according to information from the company's Web site. Flying out of Williams Gateway Airports in Mesa, the 7-year-old company is headed by former U.S. Navy Blue Angels officer Larry Pearson and former NASA astronaut and Space Shuttle pilot Jon McBride.
A search and rescue crew leaves the marina at Saltair Saturday after a jet crashed into the Great Salt Lake.
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News/KSL--TV Chopper 5
This is the first-ever accident for the company, which employs about 30 pilots, Jensen said.
The plane flown Saturday by Kenny was built in 1978, although Jensen did not know how many flight hours the aircraft had logged. All ATSI planes receive regular maintenance and are checked thoroughly before a mission, he added.
The A-4 Skyhawk is a subsonic aircraft that does not travel faster than the speed of sound, Jensen said. While in active military service, the planes were Navy attack aircraft used on aircraft carriers.
Kenny had flown numerous missions in the A-4 and was very familiar with the aircraft, Jensen said. A native of Ogden, Kenny is a former Navy pilot who lived in Atlanta and worked as a pilot for Delta Airlines. He had been flying for ATSI since 2001, Jensen said.
Kenny, who was called "Steve" by his family, was the oldest of five children, his brother Michael Kenny said. His parents still live in Ogden, although they did not want their names published in the newspaper.
Kenny graduated from St. Joseph's High School in 1978 and went on to the naval academy in Annapolis, where he was an honor graduate and Rhodes Scholar candidate in 1982. He spent eight years in the U.S. Navy, flying missions from the decks of aircraft carriers stationed around the world, his brother said.
"He was self-motivated to do all the things he did and he loved to fly, " said Michael Kenny, who followed his brother into military service. "He was a great brother; he was awesome. And he was a great uncle."
Devoted to his eight nephews and two nieces, last Thursday, the unmarried Kenny flew from his home in Atlanta, to his brother's home in Virginia, because one nephew was celebrating a birthday. From Virginia, Kenny went to Arizona to fly the ATSI mission to Canada, Michael Kenny said.
Michael Kenny said his brother was an experienced, safe pilot, who made thorough checks of his aircraft and equipment before each flight. The family had very few details of the accident Saturday and are naturally wondering just what happened in the skies above the Great Salt Lake.
"I couldn't even venture a guess," he said.
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05-11-2003, 12:52 PM #1
Military jet crashed into the Great Salt Lake, UtahFront line since 1983 and still going strong
05-11-2003, 06:17 PM #2
For those wanting a bit of info on plane accidents and what to do check out this book put out by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau titled Civil and Military Aircraft Accident Procedures for police Officers and Emergency ServicesLuke
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