Two Injured In Plane Crash Near Payson


A small airplane crashed in a remote area 13 miles west of Payson Saturday afternoon. The pilot and passenger survived and did not suffer any life-threatening injuries, according to the Gila County Sheriff's Office.

Michael Otis, 42, and Michael Gibbs, 43, both from the Valley, were rescued by a Department of Public Safety Ranger Helicopter and flown to John C. Lincoln Hospital by Native Air.


Two Valley men survived a plane crash 13 miles west of Payson in a remote area of the Mazatzal Wilderness. Why their 2003 Kitfox airplane went down remains under investigation.

Otis and Gibbs took off from the Payson airport in their 2003 Kitfox airplane after dining at the Crosswinds restaurant. Robert and Leatha Way took off in their Cessna airplane shortly after and heard a distress call from Otis and Gibbs.

"(The Ways) kept radio contact and circled the area until they could see them," GCSO Sgt. Terry Hudgens said. "They called the airport and then we were contacted."

Sheriff's deputies went to the area Monday to examine the crash site, but could not reach it because of the remote location and rugged terrain.

A DPS Ranger Helicopter pilot was able to take GCSO Det. Brian Havey over the crash site.

"There were no skidmarks," Havey said. "It looked like it just went straight down."

A salvage company will remove the pieces of the plane and an investigation will be performed by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Hudgens said the sheriff's office has been unable to interview Otis and Gibbs to find out more details of what happened, but said they are continuing their investigation.

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