Birmingham, AL Commuter Plane Crash, July 1991


Birmingham, Ala. (AP) -- A commuter plane coming in for a landing during an electrical storm plowed into two houses, killing 13 people on board and scattering terrified residents. Four people on the ground were hurt, none seriously.
L'Express Flight 508, carrying two crew members and 13 passengers, went down Wednesday evening five miles outside Municipal Airport on a flight from New Orleans via Mobile, authorities said. The pilot and one passenger survived.
The twin-engine turboprop smashed into a home, slid across the street and plowed into another house where L. V. Hendking, his wife, Susan, and their niece Carolyn McCreary were watching television.
"I heard a loud boom and then heard glass shattering," McCreary said. "I went into the kitchen and there was a man in there with his head on fire. He said, 'Get out! There's been a plane crash!'"
Hendking said she threw a towel on the man's head, and everyone ran out to escape flames engulfing the house. It was not immediately known if the man was the surviving passenger, MABRY ROGERS, 43, a lawyer from Mountain Brook.
Police Capt. Bill Gaut said ROGERS was walking around in a daze when he was rescued. He was reported in stable condition at a hospital today with a broken leg.
The pilot, FRANCIS FERNANDES, 54, of Niceville, Fla., was in stable condition with head and chest injuries, authorities said. Residents found him about 70 feet from the crash site. He was bleeding profusely.
The cause of the crash was not immediately known but a storm had been going through the area at the time.
"There was lots of high winds and thunder and lightning. The rain had just begun to come down," said police Sgt. Elvis Kennedy.
Susan Coughlin, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board team sent to the crash site, said this morning that the cockpit voice recorder was found.

Hawk Eye Burlington Iowa 1991-07-11