Florence, KY Commuter Plane Crashes On Take Off, Oct 1979


Florence, Ky. (UPI) -- A commuter plane en route to Nashville, Tenn., lost power in one of its engines Monday and crashed on takeoff at the Greater Cincinnati Airport, killing the eight men aboard.
The two-enginer Piper Navajo, owned by Comair, a commuter and charter service, crashed at the airport, located across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, as it was taking off on the southbound runway.
"It was a pretty bad scene," said Boone County Coroner DON STITH. "Half of the victims were still in their seats with their seat belts fastened."
STITH said the impact of the crash was so great that most of the victims died of head injuries.
"I don't hink there was anyway anybody could have survived the crash," he said.
Four of the victims were from Cincinnati and the others were from the Cincinnati area, STITH said.
"The plane got to 200 feet in the air when the pilot advised the control tower he had lost an engine," said chief air traffic controller SAN JUAN ROMERO. "Shortly after that he crashed about three-quarters of the way down the runway. It was about 800 feet to the right of the runway."
There was no fire or explosion, officials said.
"From all indications, the pilot almost landed the plane instead of having it crash," said TIM DONOVAN, a spokesman for Comair, which is based at the airport. "It may have been just bad luck, because had he gotten a few feet further maybe all would have walked away from it."
"The plane landed virtually intact."
Two of the victims, both of whom died at Booth Hospital in Florence, were identified as THOMAS J. OATTS, 52, of Loveland, Ohio, and JEFFERY LAKE, 29, of Cincinnati, who died about 1 1/2 hours after the crash.
Among those dead at the scene were pilot BILL PAUL, 30, of Marysville, Ind., who had just joined Comair a few weeks ago, and passengers JOHN S. HUSTON of Fairfield, Ohio and J. PAT WARMAN of West Chester, Ohio.
Three other passengers were not immediately identified.

Daily Herald Chicago Illinois 1979-10-09