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NTSB report: Pilot likely experienced spatial disorientation which led to 2018 crash in Lone Tree

Robert Marquis, 67, was the only one on board the Cirrus SR22 plane when it crashed in a neighborhood just south of Centennial Airport last year.
"This was next door to our home tonight. Plane crash near Stepping Stone in Parker." Courtesy: John Rader

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — A final report released this week by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says a pilot who crashed in May 2018 in Lone Tree likely experienced spatial disorientation shortly after entering the clouds which resulted in a loss of control and descent into terrain. 

Robert Marquis, 67, of Glade Park, Colorado, was the only one on board the Cirrus SR22 plane when it crashed in a neighborhood just south of Centennial Airport last year. 

Marquis was a member of the Mesa County Search and Rescue Ground Team, according to a post on the group's Facebook page.

RELATED: Pilot killed in Lone Tree plane crash identified

RELATED: NTSB report: Plane that crashed into neighborhood lost communication 8 minutes after takeoff

According to the preliminary report released a week after the crash, the plane left Centennial Airport at 8:11 p.m. and was initially headed to Grand Junction.

Air traffic control recordings and radar data show that shortly after take-off, Marquis began to turn left and asked to return to the airport.

The plane was flying westbound when it lost both radar and voice communication at 8:19 p.m., only 8 minutes after take-off.

Marquis would eventually crash 2.5 miles southwest of the runway he had taken off from; the right wing hit the ground first.

The impact of the crash caused the plane’s engine to get lodged into the side of a nearby home. According to the NTSB report, the debris from the plane was scattered for more than 1,219 feet.

NTSB said in its final report that after departing to the north, the pilot turned onto a left downwind to depart the area toward the south;  the controller advised the pilot to stay west of the extended runway centerline, which the pilot acknowledged. However, about two minutes after takeoff, the airplane turned east and crossed the extended centerline. After crossing the centerline, the controller asked the pilot to state his intentions, and the pilot replied that he was going to return to the airport. The airplane turned back toward the airport and began tracking west toward the extended centerline; radar contact was lost several minutes later.  

The reason for the pilot's stated intention to return to the airport after takeoff could not be determined, NTSB said, but it is possible that he became distracted and that distraction contributed to his disorientation and loss of control.

The final report says there was no indication there were any issues with the engine, propeller airframe or flight controls prior to the crash.

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