Tusayan, AZ Tourist Plane Crash, Sep 1989


Tusayan, Ariz. (AP) -- A sightseeing plane making its final approach for landing veered into a wooded hill near the Grand Canyon Airport on Wednesday, killing 10 people and injuring the other 11 people aboard, eight of them critically.
The aircraft's wings were sheared off by tall Ponderosa pines, but some passengers survived because the fuselage of the de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter remained largely intact, said Coconino County Sheriff Joe Richards. The two crew members were killed, he said.
National Park Service Ranger Paul Crawford said some of the passengers were walking around when he arrived at the scene on a small ridge about 300 yards east of a ranway.
"They were shell-shocked. They had that empty, dazed look," he said.
The twin-engine Grand Canyon Airlines plane was landing after its second flight of the day when the accident occurred at 9:55 a.m. Wednesday, said Ronald L. Warren, the airline's vice president and general manager.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elly Brekke said the plane was about 1,500 feet down the 9,000 foot runway when it veered to the right, then to the left and into an open space where it descended into trees and crashed, flipping over.
All 19 passengers were Americans, he said. Several were from California, and many were from the East Coast. Two of the dead were Modesto, Calif., City Councilman JOHN SUTTON and his wife, DONNA.
The airport is about five miles south of the Grand Canyon. The injured were taken by ambulance, airplane and helicopter to the Flagstaff Medical Center about 75 miles away.
Eight were listed in critical condition, and two were stable. The 11th person wasn't brought to the hospital, apparently because the injuries weren't that bad, a spokeswoman for the medical center said.
Warren said the pilot was in his mid-40s and had worked for the airline for 4 1/2 years. He said the pilot also was a training officer and "accustomed to handling unusual occurances, unusual events."
The co-pilot was in his mid-20s and in his first season with the airline, Warren said. Both crew members were from Tusayan.
Larry Nickey, a Grand Canyon National Park Fire Department captain, said the wreckage did not catch fire and that firefighters cut out the plane's bottom to free a man and a woman.
Richards said the plane "possibly had a power failure or may have struck a power line."
Warren said the craft, manufactured in 1975, had been owned and operated by the airline for two years without any problems.
No cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorder were on board because the devices aren't required or even manufactured for that type of aircraft, he said.
At the time of the crash, winds were calm and visibility was not a problem, although the sky was partly cloudy, Richards said.
In 1986, a Grand Canyon Airlines plane collided with a sightseeing helicopter inside the canyon, killing 25 people.

Santa Fe New Mexican 1989-09-28



Tusayan, Ariz. (AP) -- A Grand Canyon sightseeing plane that crashed on a landing approach killing 10 people, touched down hard and scraped its right wing, then veered off and rolled nearly 180 degrees before smashing into a stand of trees, federal officials said.
Investigators are checking to see if the crash was related to another landing problem seven months ago in the same aircraft, a de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter, said John Lauber of the National Transportation Safety Board. In that incident the plane's wing also struck the ground.
"Clearly, as we get further into this and are able to examine whatever other information we can find out about that, that's a possibility, but at this point we have nothing to tie those together," Lauber said Thursday.
Preliminary results indicate the plane's two engines were accelerating when the crash occurred, Lauber said, but he refused to speculate whether the pilot was trying to abort the landing and regain altitude.
Weather was not a factor in the crash at the Grand Canyon Airport, he said.
Tests of the pilots' blood and fuel analysis were incomplete.
Federal Aviation Administration records show the 14-year-old plane had a problem while landing at the airport on Feb. 27, when it lost directional control and struck a wingtip on the runway. The records said the plane had a "possible nose-wheel-centering problem."
No one was injured in the earlier accident, in which wind was listed as a contributing factor, according to the FAA records.
The earlier flight was piloted by a new employee who was being supervised by WILLIAM WELCH of Sedona, Ariz., the pilot killed in Wednesday's crash, said Ronald L. Warren, vice president and general manager of Grand Canyon Airlines.
WELCH, 47, and copilot KEITH CROSSON, 43, of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, were killed along with eight passengers.
Three survivors were in serious condition, one was in guarded condition and seven were in stable condition Thursday at Flagstaff Medical Center, about 75 miles away.
"It all happened in a flash," said KATHERINE MAYES, who suffered a broken pelvis and a severely bruised right shoulder. MS. MAYES described how the plane "shot straight up" and flipped over.
She said she looked out the nearby window and found herself "in the middle of a pine forest." Inside the wreckage, she saw a woman hanging upside down in her seat and other passengers entangled in the debris.
"I crawled as far away as I could," said MS. MAYES, 66, of Nashville, Tenn. "And I waited for the medics. I'm sure they got there as fast as they could, but it seemed an eternity."
Lauber said the plane was returning to the airport 10 miles south of the South Rim after an aerial tour of the Grand Canyon.
The FAA tower had cleared the landing and everything appeared to be normal, Lauber said.
As the plane touched down, however, the right wintip struck the runway, and the landing was hard enough on the right side to put "scrub marks" on the right tire.
The craft soared and rolled so that its left wing was nearly vertical to the ground. It struck a stand of ponderosa pine 300 yards off the pavement.
Lauber said transcripts of radio communication between air traffic controllers and the pilot revealed nothing unusual. There were "a couple of unintelligible transmissions" after the final clearance to land was given that sound experts were scrutinizing for clues.
Lauber said the engines would be removed and shipped to Montreal for examination by Pratt & Whitney, the manufacturer.
WELCH had worked 3 1/2 years for the airline and logged about 2,000 hours of flight time, Lauber said. CROSSON was in his first year with the airline.

The Indiana Gazette Pennsylvania 1989-09-29

Complete list of victims of the plane crash at Grand Canyon Airport in Tusayan as released by the Coconino County Sheriff's Department.
Dead (10):
KEITH CROSSON (co-pilot), 43, Kailua Kona, Hawaii.
JOYCE JONES, 52, Woodbridge, Va.
LORRAINE MURPHY, 75, Random Lake, Wis.
BARBARA MARCHAND, 61, Meriden, Conn.
MHORIA ROBERTSON, 46, hometown unavailable, Scotland.
EUGENIA SHEEHAN, 78, Youngstown, Ohio.
DONNA SUTTON, 63, Modesto, Calif.
JOHN SUTTON, 65, Modesto, Calif.
WILLIAM WELCH (pilot), 47, Sedona, Ariz.
HELEN ZUCKERMAN, 64, Boca Raton, Fla.
Survivors (11):
FLORENCE BICKLEY, 63, Manchester, Conn.
MINNIE BOWDEN, 59, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
SUSAN CLINE, 42, Farmington, Mich.
CATHERINE HAMPTON, 55, Walnut Creek, Calif.
VIRGIL JONES, 54, Woodbridge, Va.
KATHERINE MAYES, 66, Nashville, Tenn.
JESEE MURPHY, 75, Random Lake, Wis.
ELLEN NEWMAN, 75, Youngstown, Ohio.
JOANNE PEMBLETON, 57, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
MARY SHAVER, 57, Nashville, Tenn.
JULIUS ZUCKERMAN, 67, Boca Raton, Fla.