Bayfield man dies in Utah plane crash

Miles Reece Enlargephoto

Miles Reece

A Bayfield man was killed Wednesday, June 18, when the small plane he was piloting crashed in southeastern Utah.

Miles Reece, 62, left Durango-La Plata County Airport on Wednesday morning flying a 1958 single-engine Cessna 175.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Reece and his friend, Douglas Berry, were flying separate planes from Durango to go camping in the Idaho backcountry. They planned a fuel stop in Brigham City, Utah.

About 9 a.m. Wednesday, radar in Grand Junction had the two planes in view but lost visual on both as they entered the La Sal Mountains. Once clearing the range, radar picked up Berry's plane, but Reece's plane never reappeared, the Tribune reported.

The San Juan County (Utah) Sheriff's Office said in a news release that deputies found Reece's plane June 19 in the La Sal Mountains.

Berry radioed Reece reporting heavy turbulence over the mountain range, said Mark Reece, the victim's brother. Miles Reece never responded.

"He probably never saw it coming," his brother said Thursday in a telephone interview with The Durango Herald.

Officials say Reece was killed on impact. No other passengers were on the plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.

Reece was a certified airframe and power plant mechanic and had been flying since 1972, his brother said. He worked as an aircraft mechanic at Jeffco Aviation, was a flight engineer on Boeing 727 airliners and was first officer on DC-9s and 747s. He had thousands of pilot hours, his brother said.

Reece moved to Bayfield in 1995 and worked for his longtime friend Jeff Grigsby at Indian Motor Works.

Grigsby said he flew with Reece on some of his first flights.

"He was so conscientious and mechanically gifted," Grigsby said. "It is so boggling that something like this could happen."

Said Reece's brother: "He was a damn good pilot."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.