Another MU-2 Down - Fatal
Pilot dies in plane crash at Centennial

By The Associated Press
August 4, 2005

ENGLEWOOD A twin-engine cargo plane that vanished from radar before dawn today on approach to Centennial Airport crashed in rugged terrain, killing its pilot, rescue officials said.

Authorities believed only one person was on board, said Becky O'Guin, public information officer for the Parker Fire District. The pilot's name was not released.

Airport officials notified emergency crews after losing radar contact with the plane just after 2 a.m. as it was preparing to land. It disappeared from radar about one to two miles south of the airport.

A crew in a Denver police helicopter found the turboprop Mitsubishi MU-2B-60 east of Interstate 25 in a rural, rugged area in Douglas County at the crest of a hill in heavy rain, O'Guin said.

Except for the tail and one engine, the plane was "pretty much smashed to bits," said Andy Lyon of South Metro Fire Rescue.

Heavy rain created muddy conditions that hampered efforts to locate the aircraft.

"The terrain itself is rugged lots of gullies and scrub oak but also it's very wet and our air support has very low visibility," O'Guin said.

The plane was registered to a Flight Line Inc., of Watkins. It had been flying from Salt Lake City to Centennial Airport, O'Guin said. The plane was carrying canceled checks, Lyon said.

A woman who answered Flight Line's phone said the company would have no comment.

Another Mitsubishi MU-2B-60 operated by Flight Line crashed near Centennial Airport on Dec. 10, killing pilot Paul Krysiak, 28, of Aurora, and co-pilot James Presba, 25, of Lone Tree.

Including Thursday's crash, that model of aircraft has been involved in 27 accidents in the past 25 years in the U.S., including 19 fatal crashes that killed a total of 55 people, according to National Transportation Safety Board records.

Five of the accidents were in Colorado. Three of those resulted in the deaths of nine people.

South Dakota Gov. George Mickelson and seven others were killed in April 1993 when their Mitsubishi MU-2B-60 crashed in Zwingle, Iowa.

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Plane crash kills check-hauling pilot

The aircraft, owned by American Check Transport, went down on approach to Centennial Airport. It is the third fatal accident of its kind in six years for the company.

Investigators examine the site where a twin-engine turboprop cargo plane crashed early Thursday, killing pilot Sam Hunter of Utah. No one else was on the plane. Hunter was on approach to Centennial Airport when his plane, a MU-2B-60 owned by Adams County-based American Check Transport, vanished from the airport s radar amid heavy rain about 1 to 2 miles south of the airport.

A turboprop cargo plane flying for an Adams County check hauler crashed early Thursday while on approach to Centennial Airport, killing the pilot and destroying the plane.

The Mitsubishi MU-2B-60 vanished from airport-tower radar amid heavy rain about 1 to 2 miles south of the airport around 2 a.m., said Becky O'Guin, spokeswoman for the Parker Fire District.

Authorities identified the pilot in Thursday's crash as Sam Hunter of West Valley City, Utah. A representative of American Check Transport, which operates out of Front Range Airport, said Hunter had flown with the company for about five years.

The aircraft was flying into Centennial from Salt Lake City. No one else was on the plane.

It Christopher Roberts of the National Transportation Safety Board is stopped by a Douglas County officer as he drives to the site where a cargo plane crashed Thursday, killing the pilot. It is the third fatal accident in six years for MU-2B-60 aircraft flown by American Check pilots. (Post / RJ

crashed in a rocky, hilly area east of Interstate 25, and it took about five hours for rescuers to find the wreckage.

As part of the accident investigation, air safety officials will review weather conditions at the time of the accident, said David Bowling, regional director of the National Transportation Safety Board office in Denver.

Officials said heavy rain, low ceilings and bad visibility were present at the time of the crash.

Because of the weather conditions, the pilot was relying on the plane's instruments while approaching the airport, and the accident inquiry will attempt to verify that the plane's instruments and Centennial's instrument landing system were working properly, Bowling said.

Investigators also will examine the "currency" of the pilot's training for instrument flying, he added.

The pilot was cleared to land when air-traffic controllers issued him a "low-altitude alert," said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer. But there was no response from the pilot.

It was the third fatal accident in six years for MU-2B-60 aircraft flown by American Check pilots.

Last Dec. 10, a plane hauling checks for Vectra Bank crashed shortly after taking off from Centennial, killing pilots Paul Krysiak and James Presba.

The plane had engine problems on takeoff and was attempting an emergency landing when it crashed. The NTSB is still preparing a report on the accident.

Krysiak, 28, of Aurora was the pilot-in-command of the aircraft and had accumulated 325 hours flying Mitsubishi planes and 3,000 total flight hours.

In February 2000, an American Check MU-2 pilot was killed while approaching an airport in Lewiston, Idaho, when the plane hit a ridgeline about 1 1/2 miles from the runway. The pilot had reported a "dual engine flameout,"
according to the NTSB.

The safety board reported that the pilot did not follow flight- manual procedures and also cited the plane's operator for "not complying with a service bulletin for the installation of an auto-ignition system."

Some aviation experts say MU-2 aircraft are high-performance planes and require an unusually high level of recurrent training.

"You need to make a commitment to this airplane, more than a casual commitment," said pilot Earle Martin, who has accumulated more than 7,000
MU-2 flight hours over 16 years.

Martin owns an MU-2B-60, and operates an air charter service out of Houston.

He said he gets annual flight- simulator training and completes a proficiency check with an FAA inspector every six months.

NTSB investigators examined pilot training procedures at American Check Transport after the December crash.

"It's been an ongoing issue," said the NTSB's Bowling, "and I'm sure it's going to get more attention now."

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