A man who died when he flew a plane into his own house after he had been arrested for assaulting his wife had full access to his employer's plane because he had earned the firm's trust, the president of Utah engineering company VanCon Inc. said Tuesday. Duane Youd, 47, was a "rock-solid" employee during 13 months as company pilot, Leon Van Sickle told the AP, adding Youd had the digital access code to the airplane hangar. Youd flew employees to business meetings around North America in the company's only plane, a twin-engine Cessna 525, and "it all boils to trust," Van Sickle said. "I don't know what we would have done different. He flies with our lives at stake and we thoroughly trusted him beyond measure. He took great care of us. He never took chances. Everything was by the book."
The crash occurred at about 2:30am Monday in Payson. Youd had posted bail just hours earlier after being arrested after witnesses reported seeing him assault his wife, authorities said. His wife and her 24-year-old son escaped as the house became engulfed in flames. Youd took the plane out of a hangar at the Spanish Fork-Springville Airport, where there is no air-traffic control monitoring. Van Sickle said he heard rumblings that Youd was having marital problems but was not aware of the domestic violence incident Sunday or another one in April. "I couldn't believe it," Van Sickle said. "The guy was just golden. He was rock solid." Van Sickle agrees it was an intentional act, noting that Youd had to fly under high-voltage power lines and avoid other houses to hit his own house without causing more damage. "That took some skill," Van Sickle said.