Authorities say 1 dead in W.Va. plane crash

AP News
Posted: Jun 22, 2012 8:38 PM
Authorities say 1 dead in W.Va. plane crash

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — One person was killed Friday when a plane apparently affiliated with a Montana oil and gas company struck two communications towers near West Virginia's Coopers Rock State Forest and crashed.

Monongalia County Sheriff Al Kisner and other officials confirmed the fatality but did not immediately identify the victim.

An aviation mechanic who helped shut down the power systems on the wrecked Beechcraft King Air 90 and make it safe to retrieve the body said the pilot was the only person on board. Searchers looked for other victims but found none, said Mike Nichols of Aphelion Aviation in Morgantown.

Nichols said the pilot had been flying in hazy conditions when he struck the towers, tearing down part of one structure and their cables. The plane crashed into the ground at a high rate of speed and broke into pieces that were scattered in both Monongalia and Preston counties.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board dispatched investigators to the site off Interstate 68, but neither agency offered more details Friday afternoon.

The plane crashed about 7.5 miles east of Morgantown.

It's registered to Oz Gas Aviation LLC of Lewiston, Mont., but calls to that address were answered by a woman working for Sleepy Hollow Oil and Gas. She said she had no information to share.

A second Oz Gas official in Pennsylvania also said he couldn't confirm any information about the crash.

The website shows the plane was flying between airports in Tidioute, Pa., and Farmington, Pa., at about 10,000 feet and 245 knots.

Between 9:24 a.m. and 9:42 a.m., it dropped to 5,000 feet. It then vanished from radar.

One of the towers struck is owned by West Virginia Public Broadcasting, said Bill Acker, director of broadcasting and technology in Charleston. Television service in the Morgantown area was disrupted and radio signals might be.


Associated Press writer Matt Volz in Helena, Mont., contributed to this report.