The Main Stream

Feb 7, 2013 6:41 PM by Lorraine Rivera

Investigation underway in deadly plane crash

CASA GRANDE - Investigators from the National Traffic Safety Board completed their investigation Thursday at the Casa Grande Municipal Airport following Wednesday's deadly plane crash. Authorities said the 1977 Beech Craft King Air nose-dived while conducting touch and go maneuvers.

The wreckage was en route to Phoenix late Thursday evening on board a flat bed pick-up truck.

Tom Little, an air safety investigator with the NTSB said all parts of the plane were on the runway, "the airplane sustained significant thermal, fragmented damage and we need to take the airplane now to a salvage facility, lay it out so we can the lay the whole thing out. Look at the pieces and look at everything, engineer, airframe, engine components, collapsed landing gear, all those types of things. Look at them individually whereas we couldn't really do that here."

He said investigators will conduct a thorough examination at a Phoenix storage facility, "we didn't see any weather problems yesterday but we still look at that, pilot qualifications we need to look at that, the plane, the engineer we need to look at that really in great detail."

Jim Morgan is the assistant fire chief for the City of Casa Grande said it was impossible for anyone to survive the crash, "it's similar to some of those significant car crashes that you see on a freeway where you get multiple pileups and you get heavy intense fire, thick black smoke and all you're left with is a molten pile of debris in the end and that's what this really resembled."

He said explosions happened after the collision, "the landing gear themselves, the tires. They're hydraulic and pressurized and in this case tires on the aircraft are filled and as they expand they rupture and that's what was some of the secondary explosion," Morgan explained.

Gary Couch was in the airport at the time of the crash, "we heard a hump noise and somebody said that was a plane that hit the ground. You could see the smoke over the top of the terminal already. you could see the fire burning and it got more intense as time went along."

The investigation is expected to take anywhere from six to nine months. The names of men have not been released. However, the plane is registered to the Sauo Aero Services LLC based in Tucson. Attempts to contact the business were unsuccessful Thursday.

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