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Tapes Don’t Help Solve Plane Crash

February 28, 2001

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The final conversations between air traffic controllers and the crew of a plane carrying members of the Oklahoma State basketball team provides no explanation for why the plane crashed, killing all 10 on board.

The Beechcraft Super King Air 200 took off from the Jefferson County Airport in Colorado during a storm on Jan. 27. The plane crashed about 15 minutes later 40 miles east of Denver.

Coroner Rick Amend listed ground impact as the official cause of death for the 10 men. Members of the team had played the University of Colorado earlier that day.

The plane climbed to 23,000 feet and cruised for three minutes before air traffic controllers lost contact with it. No distress call was made. Investigators have ruled out engine failure as a possible cause of the crash.

Before takeoff, pilot Denver Mills told controllers he planned to fly to Stillwater, Okla., and then on to Oklahoma City, the tape shows.

``I’d like to check the weather and give you a couple of flight plans,″ Mills says.

Later, an air traffic controller in Denver radioed that he could not reach the plane. The tapes do not give any indications of problems. Voices are often absent or unintelligible.

The FAA released the tapes Tuesday under Freedom of Information Act requests. It did not release a transcript.

The National Transportation Safety Board will not complete its preliminary report on the crash for another few months, spokesman Paul Schlamm said. The final report is expected late this year or in early 2002.

Investigators plan to return this week to the site of the crash. Snow that covered the field a month ago has melted and investigators hope to find bits of wreckage that may have been obscured earlier, Schlamm said.

Two Oklahoma State players and eight other members of the traveling party were killed in the crash.

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