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Commuter plane crashes,
 killing 21

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Charlotte plane crash
image: accident scene
Aerial footage shows the crash site at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.

A witness describes what he saw as Flight 5481 crashed at the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.
   
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    CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan 8 —   A US Airways Express commuter plane crashed into an airport hangar at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport moments after takeoff early Wednesday, killing all 21 people on board.  

     
     
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‘It’s just a horrible sight.’
RANDY PARKER
Witness to crash
       FLIGHT 5481, A Beech 1900 twin-engine turboprop with 19 passengers and two crew members on board, had just lifted off about 8:45 a.m. on its scheduled flight to Greenville-Spartanburg airport in Greer, S.C., when it banked to the left, flipped upside down and slammed into the ground near the hangar, according to witnesses.
       The crash spread debris and ignited a fire that scorched the side of a US Airways hangar and spread to a nearby construction site.
       “It’s just a horrible sight,” said Randy Parker, who saw the accident as he was getting out of his vehicle at the airport.
       US Airways said that there were no survivors from the plane. Charlotte police said that two workers were missing in the wake of the crash, but airport director Jerry Orr said at a news conference that the missing had been accounted for.
       One person on the ground was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment. There was no immediate word on the extent of the person’s injuries.
       The weather in the Charlotte area was clear and breezy, with no threat of icing at ground level, at the time of the crash. But there were some regional reports of low-level wind shear, a condition in which winds rapidly change direction.
       Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown said the last radio contact with the pilots was an acknowledgement of clearance for takeoff.
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       US Airways established a special toll-free telephone number — 1-800-679-8215 — to call for information about those on board Flight 5481.
       US Airways Express is a set of commuter lines, mostly operated by Mesa Air Group. The flight that crashed was operated by Air Midwest.
       Mesa Air Group said the plane, one of about 50 Beech 1900s in its fleet, was 8 years old and had been flown 15,000 hours and undergone 21,000 takeoffs and landings.
       The crash was the first fatal commercial air accident in the United States in more than a year.
       The Beech 1900 has been involved in six fatal accidents since 1990.
       

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       NBC Producer Jay Blackman, MSNBC.com’s Mike Brunker and Jon Bonne and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
       
       
       
 
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