coming back alive
10 Men Rest in Lake Erie
Hampered by snow and low clouds, U.S. and Canadian crews were forced to call off rescue efforts for 10 people believed killed when a small regional airline plane crashed into icy Lake Erie shortly after taking off from a Canadian island.

The single-engine plane crashed in snowy weather and was submerged in 24 feet of water about a mile west of Pelee Island, the Ontario Provincial Police said.

"Unfortunately, this has changed from a rescue mission to a recovery mission," said Constable Brian Knowler of the provincial police in Kingsville.

The Georgian Express plane, carrying eight hunters from Ontario, the pilot and a friend of the pilot, was bound for Windsor, about 35 miles to the northwest, when the pilot made a frantic call for help soon after taking off.

The wreckage of the Cessna 208 Caravan was found Saturday evening in western Lake Erie, between Cleveland and Detroit, but bad weather kept rescuers from finding the victims.

The region has been locked in bitterly cold weather, with temperatures in the 20s Saturday and early Sunday in northern Ohio. Wind and snow flurries were forecast Sunday, with waves of 2 to 4 feet, and the water temperature was about 34 degrees.

"The weather became a very big factor in our efforts," said Capt. Dave Elit of the Canadian search and rescue coordination center at Canadian Forces Base Trenton.

A team was being formed to investigate the crash, said Don Enns, regional senior investigator for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

Provincial police spokeswoman Debbie Mineau said a resident of the island heard the plane's engine laboring, then heard the crash.

Paul Mulrooney, president of Georgian Express, said the weather was not likely to have played a role in the crash, and that pilot Wayne Price was experienced with Cessna Caravans and had worked for his company for more than a year.

"The weather was poor down there, but from what we know, it is flyable type of weather," Mulrooney said.

Authorities identified the victims as Price, 32, of Richmond Hill, Ontario; Fred Freitas, 38, of Kingsville; Jim Allan, 51, of Mitchell's Bay; Ted Reeve, 53, of Chatham; Tom Reeve, 49, of Chatham; Robert Brisco, 46, of Chatham; Ronald Spencler, 53, of Windsor; Walter Sadowski, 48, of Windsor; Larry Janik, 48, of Kingsville; and Jamie Levine, 28, of Los Angeles.

The eight male passengers were part of a hunting group, and Levine was a friend of Price's.

All the hunters knew each other, provincial police Staff Sgt. Doug Babbitt said at a news conference Sunday afternoon. He said it was not immediately clear how long they had been on their trip.

Pelee Island resident Shawnda Bedel said she saw the hunters at the airport Saturday. She said she was planning to take a flight off the island Saturday to join her husband, but changed her mind at the last minute.

"It was crummy weather," Bedel, 29, said in a telephone interview. "It snowed most of the day."

Pelee Island has a year-round population of about 180, but peaks to more than 1,000 in the summer as tourists flock in. The island and Ohio's Lake Erie islands are popular summertime destinations for people from Ontario and Ohio.

Mulrooney said his company, based in Mississauga, Ontario, has up to three flights daily between the island and Windsor in the winter, when ice prevents ferries from running.
The plane carrying ten men crashed just West of Pelee Island. None of the men survived.
The Kennedy Curse Continues

John F. Kennedy Jr. turned down an offer by one of his flying instructors to accompany him the night of his fatal flight to Martha’s Vineyard, saying he “wanted to do it alone,” federal investigators say.

In its final report on the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board said the instructor who offered to go with him was not “comfortable” with having Kennedy alone at the controls that evening, given the route and the weather conditions.

The U.S golden couple. Several other members of the Kennedy family have died in plane crashes.
Kennedy’s single-engine Piper Saratoga crashed as he was flying with his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and her sister, Lauren Bessette, from Fairfield, N.J., just outside New York City, to Martha’s Vineyard on July 16, 1999. All three died.

The NTSB concluded the probable cause of JFK Jr.’s fatal plane crash was “failure to maintain control of the airplane” due to spatial disorientation of the pilot.    

Haze and the darkness of the night were also cited as factors. Nothing was found to be wrong with Kennedy’s plane.The NTSB report also noted that Kennedy had limited experience with night flight. He had logged 310 hours as a pilot, but needed additional training in flying by instruments, the report said.

Aviation consultant John Nance told Good Morning America that spatial disorientation can happen to even the most experienced pilots.

“It’s the inability of our head to be able to tell us, if we don’t have visual cues, whether of not we are right-side up. And it’s something that can affect any pilot,” Nance said. “Most of us have gotten by with it. John Kennedy didn’t."

On the eve of Kennedy's last flight, the conditions along the coast of New York were dangerous for an inexperienced pilot. When heavy haze or cloud cover takes away all visual references, a pilot can become disoriented, assuming the plane is flying parallel to the ground, when, in fact, it could be flying sideways. What is thought to be a left turn might actually be a climb, and what is believed to be a right turn, actually a dive.

In this situation, instruments become a potential lifesaver. For a pilot in trouble, they can provide a relationship to the horizon, literally keeping the plane flying straight.

Every pilot learns the basics about cockpit instruments, but an instrument rating takes far more training, which Kennedy didn't have. "An instrument pilot who can't see the ground or the horizon is going to keep his wings [level] using that instrument," said New Jersey flight instructor Tim Simard.

Kennedy was flying by visual flight rules, or VFR, that hazy Friday night. And Simard said a pilot without an instrument rating in that situation "shouldn't be where he is."

The Day the Music Died

On a cold winter's night a small private plane took off from Clear Lake, Iowa bound for Fargo, N.D. It never made its destination.When that plane crashed, it claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. "Big Bopper" Richardson and the pilot, Roger Peterson. Three of Rock and Roll's most promising performers, who were about to embark on the first leg of a cross-country tour, were gone.

The tour had been called "The Winter Dance Party."Concert tours were profitable and Buddy Holly needed the money. He was recently married with a child on the way. Buddy had broken up with his group, the Crickets, and had left his record company. With him on the tour was former Cricket Tommy Allsup, a friend from his hometown of Lubbock, Texas, Waylon Jennings, and Dion and the Belmonts.

Buddy Holly was only 22 when he died.

The headliners were Buddy, Ritchie and the Big Bopper. It was a grueling tour of one-night stands in the middle of winter in the cold and snowy American Midwest. The bus kept breaking down and had no heat.

Buddy was tired of the malfunctioning bus and did not want to take it to the next stop on the tour, Moorhead, Minnesota, several hundred miles away. He arranged to charter a plane to Fargo, North Dakota, the nearest airport to Moorhead.

Two other members of the group could go with him at $36 per person. Dion balked at paying the tab. Waylon Jennings wanted to fly with Buddy but exchanged his seat with J.P. Richardson because he had a cold. Tommy Alsup was included in the group but Ritchie Valens offered to flip him for the seat since he was ill.

Before departure, Buddy teased his friend from Texas, Waylon Jennings, because he wasn't joining him in the plane. Buddy said, "Well, you're not going on that plane with me tonight?" Jennings replied, "No." Buddy's reply was, "Well, I hope your old bus freezes up again." Jennings snapped back, "Well, hell, I hope your old plane crashes." Both events occurred that night.

At about 1:00 am in February 3, 1959, the plane carrying three of rock music's brightest stars took off into a blinding snow storm and crashed into Albert Juhl's corn field about fifteen miles northwest of Mason City in Cerro Gordo County, Iowa. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, Jiles P. Richardson, and pilot Roger Peterson were dead.

A photo of the crash site in Iowa. Buddy Holly died upon impact from severe head and chest injuries.

It is believed that bad weather conditions - there were strong winds and light snow which reduced visibility - and the pilot's inexperience with using the instrumentation to fly, is what caused the crash. One wing hit the ground, and the plane corkscrewed over and over many times, throwing all but the pilot from the plane.

This accident, like so many before it, was caused by the pilot's decision to undertake a flight in which the likelihood of encountering instrument conditions existed, in the mistaken belief that he could cope with en route instrument weather conditions, without having the necessary familiarization with the instruments in the aircraft and without being properly certificated to fly solely by instruments.


Final Report on Lake Erie Crash: Plane Overloaded

A plane that plunged into the icy waters of Lake Erie off Pelee Island killing 10 was significantly overloaded and hindered by ice, the Transportation Safety Board said in a final report that also criticized the pilot.

The 62-page report into Georgian Express Flight 126 says the Cessna aircraft was overburdened by at least 15 per cent and its surfaces were laden with ice when it crashed two years ago.

In fact, two passengers pointed out ice on the wing to pilot Wayne Price, but he proceeded with the flight anyway, said the report.

"The pilot made a number of decisions that increased the risk to the safe operation of the flight," said the board, adding that there was no indication the pilot was a risk-taker.

"The pilot's assessment of risk was likely degraded by some combination of stress and fatigue."

The plane crashed Jan. 17, 2004, killing eight Ontario hunters, Price and his L.A.-based girlfriend.

The initial investigation found that the plane was overweight by 576 kilograms.

When passengers boarded the plane they brought its gross weight to approximately 4,454 kilograms - roughly 13 per cent over the Cessna's maximum capacity in icy conditions.

The Cessna's aircraft manual recommends it weigh no more than 3,878 kilograms when flying into icy weather.

The average passenger weight also appeared to significantly exceed federal standards.

On Flight 126, investigators found the average weight was 240 pounds.

But the average permitted weight of male passengers was 188 pounds, including clothes but excluding carry-on luggage, and 141 pounds for women.

Relatives of the victims have filed several multimillion-dollar lawsuits targeting the pilot, airline and Township of Pelee.

Two civil suits allege that Price, Georgian Express Ltd., and the township did not take steps to ensure the craft wasn't overweight or coated with ice.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Larry Janik, 48, of Kingsville, Ont.; Ronald Spencler, 53, and Walter Sadowski, 48, of Windsor, Ont.; and brothers Tom Reeve, 49 and Ted Reeve, 53, of Chatham, Ont., were among eight area hunters and several dogs that piled into the plane on their way back from a pheasant-shooting trip.

Their relatives filed a joint $55.4-million lawsuit last year naming Georgian Express, the township, Price's estate and the Owen Sound Transportation Co., which operates the Pelee Island Transportation Service on behalf of Ontario's Transportation Ministry.

crashed plane

Another $1.25-million suit was launched last year by the widow and three children of Fred Freitas, 38, of Kingsville, Ont.

The Freitases' suit names Georgian Express, the township, Price's estate and the Cessna Aircraft Company, which built the plane.

The family of another victim, Bob Brisco, 46, of Chatham, Ont., filed a $6-million lawsuit in January naming 11 defendants, including Georgian

Also killed in the crash was hunter Jim Allen, 51, of Mitchell's Bay, Ont., and Price's fiancee, Jamie Levine, 28.

Small Plane, Fatal Crash

A man from Traverse City, Michigan, was killed when a small airplane he was flying crashed in a field just south of Cherry Capital Airport as he came in to land.

The single-engine, possibly home-built aircraft went down about 3:50 p.m. just south of South Airport Road on land owned by the airport, said Capt. Steve Morgan of the Traverse City Police Department.

planne crash

Police confirmed the pilot's death and left the body in the plane so they wouldn't have to disturb possible evidence while waiting for Federal Aviation Administration investigators to arrive from Grand Rapids, Morgan said.

The pilot had circled above Cherryland Mall, communicating with the airport tower about flight control problems before attempting the landing, Morgan said.

The crash occurred about 300 feet short of the runway. It was reported by a nearby resident who heard it and saw a cloud of dust rising from the spot. Morgan believes this is the first fatal plane crash in the city in about 15 years, he said.

Mike Rosa, a salesman at Traverse Motors next to the airport, said he saw the plane take off a while before the crash. "It whizzed off and I went back to my thing," he said. "It sounded like a fast plane, like a performance plane."

He did not see or hear the crash, but heard sirens a short time later and wondered if it was because of the plane, so he went to the site of the crash.

He had seen a man building the aircraft throughout the summer in a hangar next to the car dealership, he added. "It has a rear propeller. It's a weird-looking plane," he said. "It looks like a little fighter jet and it's no bigger than my car."

People working at Charter Communications next to the field did not hear the crash, either. "It must have been quiet," said Mike Ray, one of the people working there. "All I heard was the ambulance."

Overloading Leads to
Aaliyah's Death

The small aircraft that crashed on the island of Abaco, killing singer Aaliyah and eight others, was overloaded by hundreds of pounds, officials investigating the accident said.

The extra weight -- and the way in which it was distributed -- most likely contributed to the plane's crash shortly after takeoff, said John Frank, executive director of the Cessna Pilots' Association.

The popular singer was just 22 and a rising star when she died.

According to a report released by the Bahamian Civil Aviation Department, the plane was loaded to within 805 pounds of its maximum takeoff weight, not counting the weight of the nine people on board -- one of those a 300-pound bodyguard.

"Clearly the airplane was above its certificated gross weight when it took off, by several hundred pounds at least," said Frank.

A report into the incident said the authorized takeoff weight of a Cessna 402 is 6,300 pounds. Weight and balance information recorded for the aircraft showed it weighed 4,117 pounds empty.

The recovered baggage was weighed at 574 pounds -- not counting one suitcase that sank in the marshy area where the plane crashed -- and the fuel weighed 804 pounds, the report said.

That left 805 pounds available for the eight passengers and pilot -- or just under 90 pounds apiece.

The twisted wreckage of the plane crash that killedAaliyah and eight others. The plane was overloaded and crashed into a swampy area moments after leaving the runway.

A second, more disturbing aspect of this fatal crash, was that an autopsy report from the body of the pilot flying the plane that Aaliyah spent her final moments in, show he had cocaine and alcohol in his blood.

It appears that a combination of poor decisions resulted in the crash of this ill-fated aircraft, ending the life of a prominent young R & B artist and actress and leaving her family and fans to contemplate the carelessness that too often results in heartbreaking loss.
Leaving on a Jet Plane

On October 12, 1997 singer, songwriter, and actor John Denver was killed when he crashed the Long-EZ aircraft he was piloting after it ran out of fuel just off the coast at Pacific Grove, CA.

The easy-going singer was a country legend, whose folksy tunes such as "Take Me Home, Country Roads," and "Rocky Mountain High," appealed to millions.

Denver, an avid flier, had taken off from Monterey airport about 5 p.m.

Minutes later, as the plane soared to 500 feet over the water, witnesses reported seeing a "puff" and hearing a "popping" sound before, according to a police investigator, "it just sort of dropped unexpectedly into the ocean...When it hit the water, it broke into numerous parts."

John Denver was a country and folk legend, who was known for his easy-going songs.
Denver apparently lost control of the aircraft while attempting to manipulate the fuel selector handle. Denver had recently purchased the aircraft and had about a half-hour orientation flight the day before the accident.

Prior to departure, a technician had advised Denver to top up his fuel as he was running low, but the singer estimated that he would only be airborne for an hour, and did not need fuel.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable causes of this accident included Denver's diversion of attention from the operation of the airplane and his inadvertent application of right rudder that resulted in the loss of airplane control while attempting to manipulate the fuel selector handle.

Also, the Board determined that the pilot's inadequate preflight planning and preparation, specifically his failure to refuel the airplane, was causal.