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The engine of a Cirrus SR22 that became lodged in the side of a Lone Tree home after the aircraft crashed in May 2018 near Centennial Airport. (NTSB)
The engine of a Cirrus SR22 that became lodged in the side of a Lone Tree home after the aircraft crashed in May 2018 near Centennial Airport. (NTSB)

The deadly crash of a small propeller plane last year near Centennial Airport, which left the aircraft’s engine lodged in the side of a Lone Tree home, was caused by the pilot’s disorientation in difficult weather conditions. 

The National Transportation Safety Board said 67-year-old Robert Marquis probably lost control of the Cirrus SR22 he was flying shortly after taking off from Centennial, crashing into open space just west of the crowded Stepping Stone neighborhood. Marquis, the only person aboard the plane, died in the wreck.

“Based upon the reported weather conditions, the location and fragmentation of the wreckage, and radar data, it is likely that the pilot experienced spatial disorientation shortly after entering the clouds which resulted in a loss of control and descent into terrain,” said the NTSB’s final report on the May 11, 2018, crash. 

Marquis was planning to fly to Grand Junction on the evening of the crash, but shortly after taking off he told air traffic controllers he wanted to return to the airport. The NTSB investigation suggests Marquis was struggling or failed to follow air traffic controller’s instructions, but he never explained why he wanted to return to Centennial Airport. 

The SR22 Marquis was flying had just completed an annual inspection and he was traveling to meet his family for an event in another state. The fatal flight lasted only about five minutes.

“According to a witness who spoke with the pilot just before the accident flight, the pilot was concerned about the weather in the area,” the NTSB said.

Investigators found nothing wrong with the single-engine propellor plane that would have caused it to crash.

“The postaccident examination of the engine and propeller assembly did not reveal any preimpact anomalies that would have precluded normal operation,” the NTSB report said, 

Marquis, who was a married father and grandfather, was a Grand Junction veterinarian and volunteer member of the Mesa County Search and Rescue Team, according to his obituary. 

Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....