'Adventurous, Beautiful' Young Rural Pilot Dies in Shock Accident, Dad Blames Hazardous Construct Near Airport

The father of a woman killed when her plane crashed in Idaho says obstructions on the ground near the airport could have been a factor in her death.

Chelsea Brittney Infanger, 30, of Salmon, Idaho, died Wednesday when the single-engine Cessna she was flying crashed into the Gem State Processing Plant in Heyburn, Idaho, at about 8:35 a.m., according to East Idaho News.

Although the investigation into the crash is ongoing, her dad, Jim Bob Infanger, said ground conditions have become worse as the plant expands. Burley Municipal Airport is at the edge of the Snake River, just across from the plant.

Although his daughter often flew there, he said, there were hazards for pilots.

“There’s a 60-foot chimney sticking out of the top of the food processing plant — no lights on it, dead center — straight across the runway. So whenever you come in, you have to fly over the top of this and drop down,” he said.

Infanger said Cassia County has been urged to close the airport.

“That airport needs to be closed, period. I’m a pilot myself and … many pilots have told me how unsafe the Burley airport is and how they’ve begged the county to relocate it,” he said.

“They’ve allowed this potato processing plant to continue to expand and this chimney comes up and has a huge amount of steam. If the wind is blowing [a certain direction] you fly right into this wall of steam. That was the case that morning,” he said.

Infanger said his daughter was part of the supply chain, delivering packages.

“The company she worked for has a contract with UPS,” he said. “They’ve got quite a few pilots and they fly six or eight of these routes every day and she was one of their main pilots flying a UPS route for them.”

His daughter had been flying for 11 years and was a “well-respected pilot way beyond her years,” he said.

There’s no official cause yet of the crash yet, but Infanger is offering the theory a wing might have hit the chimney, or that the plane hit a bird.

According to the East Idaho News, Chelsea’s sister, Emily Goodrich, “describes her sister as an adventurous person who did whatever she set her mind to”  and was ‘the most loving and kindest person she’s ever known.’”

“I’ve always said, ‘sisters make the best friends,’ and she really was the best friend to me. I think everybody who knew her felt like she was their best friend,” she said.

Her dad said his daughter’s sudden passing is a reminder to cherish loved ones because  “you never know when you won’t be able to tomorrow.”

“The world is a darker place without her light, but I believe Heaven is a little more beautiful with her there,” Goodrich said. “She saw more and lived more in her 30 years than most do in 100. My angel sister has gained her permanent wings.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.