Seven Dead In Arkansas Plane Crash; Jet Makes Emergency Landing In Lousiana
BATESVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ A twin-engine plane crashed and burned Friday night as it tried to land here in a heavy thunderstorm, killing all seven people on board, sheriff’s deputies said.
Earlier Friday, five people died in small plane crashes in New York and Texas, leaving Friday’s civil aviation death toll at 12.
In addition, lightning struck a TWA jetliner 50 miles from Little Rock’s airport Friday, a Delta Air Lines flight from Chicago to Dallas-Fort Worth made an emergency landing at Shreveport (La.) Regional Airport, and a huge fuel spill at San Francisco’s airport forced delays and diversions for hundreds of flights.
The names of the seven dead in the Batesville crash were not available, said Roger Williams, a dispatcher for the Independence County Sheriff’s Department.
Williams said the Beechcraft King Air turboprop ″had made one approach and missed the Batesville airport and they were attempting a second time″ when it crashed just after 6 p.m. about 12 miles west of the airport. The remote crash site is some 90 miles northeast of Little Rock.
The flight originated at Orange, Texas, outside Houston, said Wayne Beckmann, duty officer at the Federal Aviation Administration’s southwest regional office in Fort Worth.
Beckmann confirmed that the plane crashed after its second approach.
Arkansas was under a flash flood watch when the crash occurred during a heavy thunderstorm.
″The weather was about as bad as you can get,″ Williams said. ″The officers at the scene said it was raining, and so foggy you couldn’t see the ground.″
Elsewhere, three people were killed when a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza apparently lost power shortly after takeoff from a Shirley, N.Y., airport, authorities said.
The plane, which can seat four to six people, had reached an altitude of about 200 feet before it crashed near the Brookhaven Airport on Long Island, said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
In Fort Worth, Texas, two people were killed when their single-engine Cessna 150 crashed on a highway near Meacham Field.
The TWA jet, en route to Little Rock, Ark., from St. Louis with 76 passengers, was struck by lightning about 50 miles from the Arkansas airport, authorities said.
″There was a large bolt of lightning, almost like a white, yellow flash,″ said James Earl Wilson, a passenger on the DC-9. ″It seemed almost immediately like we lost some power. I was concerned that maybe the engine went out.″
TWA spokesman Don Morrison said lightning struck the plane’s left wing about 10:30 a.m., damaging a metal section that controls elevation. The jet landed safely at Little Rock about 26 minutes later, Morrison said.
Passengers on the plane were shaken but unhurt.
In the Delta incident, a Shreveport Fire Department official said there were reports that the jet, Flight 505, blew a tire while taking off from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and that part of the tire flew into one of the plane’s two engines, causing it to shut down.
It also was reported that the plane’s flaps were not working properly, said a fire department official who asked not to be identified.
The plane landed without incident about 10 p.m. An airport police spokesman, who also asked not to be identified, said there were no injuries among the 95 passengers and crew members.
Delta officials could not be reached immediately for comment.
Passenger J.R. Robinson of Plano, Ill., said he and others aboard the plane were told that the aircraft was low on fuel because of bad weather and had to land in Shreveport.