Two Moab residents were injured in a plane crash on Thursday, Aug. 3 near Canyonlands Field airport. Moab City Council member Rani Derasary, 47, and her husband, Nathan Rydman, 46, received non-life-threatening injuries when the Cessna 170A owned and piloted by Rydman crashed approximately 1.5 miles south of the airport just before 8 p.m. in terrain described as consisting of “sandy hills and sagebrush,” a news release from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office stated.
The accident was reported to authorities at 8:19 p.m. and personnel from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, Grand County Emergency Medical Services and Grand County Search and Rescue responded to the scene.
Rydman told The Times-Independent that he and Derasary, along with their dog Ladoo, took off from the airport at about 7:43 p.m. and planned to fly north to visit his parents for the weekend. He said sudden shifts in wind speed and wind direction, which he described as a “microburst” that produced a strong downdraft, caught the airplane during its ascent and forced the Cessna to the ground.
“We had been sitting at the airport as storms were going through. We’d been watching the radar [waiting for conditions to improve],” Rydman said.
After the storms passed they flew out, but shortly after taking off, Rydman spotted potentially troubling winds.
“The thought I had was to get as much energy and altitude as I could then make a quick turn and not go to that place,” he said. “But the downdraft caught us before I was able to make the turn.”
At that point, Rydman said, he focused on keeping the plane at “wing-level altitude” to execute the best emergency landing possible.
“It just really sucks that there wasn’t a runway to land on then,” he said. “But it was black Russian sand.”
The 1950 Cessna was completely destroyed in the crash, but Rydman and Derasary escaped with mostly minor cuts and bruises. Rydman also has a fractured sternum, he said. The dog was traumatized but unharmed.
“We’re feeling lucky,” Rydman said. “...We are at home, moving around ... and we will heal and recover.”
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were notified and the accident is still under investigation, Sheriff’s Department officials said.