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The following text is from VOXNYC:

Senator Wellstone Assassinated by group linked to BUSH Sr.


I do concur with synapse's analysis of the media coverage. I find it very peculiar that the media won't even mention the possibility that foul play could be responsible. All the focus seems to be on the weather however the weather doesn't appear to be as bad as the media makes it out to be. On the website, an article quotes Traci Chacich, the airport office manager, saying that "two smaller Beech Queen Airs landed at the same airport two hours earlier without incident. `It was a bit foggy, but nothing to speak of,' she said."

In the same article it is said that the King Air A100s have a relatively good safetly record with only 2 fatal crashes in the last 6 years. "Both involved experienced pilots who crashed while trying to make Instrument Landing System (ILS) approaches in heavy fog. The NTSB ruled that the probable cause of the accidents were due to pilot's failure to follow Instrument Flight Rule procedures and maintain the minimum descent altitude when landing."

Sen. Wellstone's main pilot was a professional pilot with lots of experience flying Wellstone around. Could it be that he misjudged the landing descent altitude because of heavy fog and lost control of the plane? Could it be that they were rushed to land because they had taken off late from the Twin Cities, after sitting in the airplane for 25 minutes before takeoff? It could well be that Sen. Wellstone was rushed however he hated flying and I am sure he wouldn't tell the pilot to rush his landing. If the airport manager indicated that 2 planes, including a UPS plane, had already landed 2 hours earlier that morning and that the fog wasn't much too speak of, then I guess we will keep on guessing what happened.

Another strange piece in the story so far is the apparent unnamed witness that lived nearby who saw the plane travel over his house at 100 feet and observed it was jerking or "crabbing to the right." Who is this witness and what is his name? Why does the media quote a witness to the death of a US Senator and not state his name? This witness also states he felt the impact of the crash and then heard a "loud shot." What was this shot? Has anyone seen this witness on TV or catch his name in another news article? (See StarTribune story below.)

From the same article, Carol Carmody of NTSB states the following, " The plane was 90 degrees off a routine approach to the westbound runway . . . Further, its angle of descent was 'steeper than the normal approach'. . . . She said investigators flew over the crash site in a helicopter Saturday to outline the scene. While in the air, she said, investigators saw TREETOPS SHEARED AT SHARP ANGLES, revealing the plane's path as it plunged into wooded, marshy terrain. . . . Carmody said the damage to the trees began 150 feet from the spot where the plane was found."----My question is what does this mean? How can they tell how steep an angle a plain crashed at by the angles of shearing of treetops and the path of the crash in a flat, wooded area? I am trying to imagine how different crashes would do different things to trees but I don't see how the crash was steep. Its path was 150 feet and treetops were sheared along the way. A plane the falling straight out of the sky would have a small crash area and thus a very steep descent. I just don't understand what she is trying to say. To me it seems like the pilots were already flying low and went into a long crash landing.

If I find any other oddities I'll post.

Posted by jab @ 10/27/2002 02:58 AM EST

INVESTIGATORS: Plane, far off course, crashed perpendicular to runway

by Kermit Pattison, Todd Nelson and Phillip Pia, Pioneer Press

EVELETH, Minn. - In the final moments before the crash that killed U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone and seven others, the small plane was flying an unusually steep descent and dramatically off course from the runway, a top investigator said Saturday.

The Beechcraft King Air A100 somehow had turned away from the airport despite a radio message indicating it was on final approach. Carol Carmody, acting chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said the plane appeared to have been flying on a course roughly perpendicular to the runway at the point of impact.

"The aircraft was not aligned with the runway center," said Carmody. "It appears to be headed south and it was about 90 degrees off what would be a routine approach. We don't know why this is. We will try to find out."

On the first day of the investigation, officials revealed that Wellstone's plane contained no cockpit voice recorder that might offer clues about why it mysteriously plunged into a wooded, swampy area 2 miles southeast of the Eveleth-Virginia Municipal Airport on Friday morning.

But they did recover other evidence, including both the plane's engines, which will be examined for possible clues. They also found damaged propellers, indicating they were turning when the plane hit the ground though that does not necessarily mean they did not malfunction.

Carmody said she had consulted with the FBI and there was no intelligence information and no evidence in the wreckage that suggested any possibility of terrorism.

Investigators likely will spend three to five more days at the site gathering evidence before returning to Washington to continue their analysis. Carmody said the NTSB may take months to make a final determination about the cause of the crash.

The plane apparently had been descending sharply when it sheared off the tops of trees and crashed in a bog. Carmody said strike damage to trees began about 150 feet from the crash site and showed an unusually precipitous downward angle.

"The angle was steeper than what would be expected in normal, standardized, stabilized approach," she said.

The crash killed Wellstone, 58, as the Democrat sought a third term in the Senate in a hotly contested race against Republican Norm Coleman. Also killed were the senator's wife, Sheila, 58; their daughter, Marcia Wellstone Markuson, 33; campaign aides Will McLaughlin, 23, Tom Lapic, 49, and Mary McEvoy, 49; and pilots Richard Conry, 55, and Michael Guess, 30.

One witness told investigators that the plane sounded unusually loud as it flew low over his house moments before the crash.

"It was so close the windows were shaking," said Rodney Allen, possibly the last person to see the plane before the crash.

Carmody said Allen told investigators he was accustomed to planes flying overhead. He said he looked out the window and saw the westbound plane pass about 100 feet over his house, about five miles southeast of the airport. He said it had been "crabbing to the right," or slipping to the side, as it moved forward in the manner of a crab, Carmody said.

"He went back to watching television and within a minute, less than a minute, he felt an impact and heard what he called a loud shot," said Carmody. "He thought it might have been a rifle or something. He didn't know what it was. He figured out later that it probably was connected with the crash," about two miles west of his house.

The NTSB had hoped to find a voice recorder in the wreckage. But on Saturday investigators learned the plane did not carry one and was not required to under Federal Aviation Administration regulations, said Carmody.

"We don't know what might have been on it," she said. "Of course we would have liked to have had it, absolutely."

Carmody said it was too soon to determine whether aircraft icing had contributed to the crash. Investigators are reviewing weather data and looking for valves and cockpit switches that might indicate whether the pilots had tried to deice the aircraft while in flight.

In addition to crash scene evidence, investigators routinely examine atmospheric conditions, maintenance records and the records of the pilots. An investigator Saturday traveled to the regional FAA center to obtain radar tapes and talk to controllers.

NTSB investigators refused to draw any conclusions from the physical evidence. But one experienced aviator from the area said the evidence suggested that something happened that caused the pilots to lose control of the plane.

"They were no longer in control of the aircraft," said Don Sipola, a former president of the Eveleth-Virginia Municipal Airport Commission, who has 25 years of experience flying at the airport. "That will be the $64 questionwhat occurred in the last few minutes that distracted them or caused them to wrestle control of the aircraft."

"Something caused them at low altitude to veer off course," Sipola said.

The angle of descent also indicates an out-of-control flight, Sipola said. The normal approach for the aircraft is a descent of 3 degrees, he said. But Sipola said NTSB investigators told him Saturday that the plane was descending at 30 degrees.

"This was a real steep bank, not a nice, gentle don't-spill-the-coffee descent," Sipola said. "This is more like the space shuttle coming down. This was not a controlled flight into the ground."

The chartered campaign plane took off Friday morning from St. Paul Downtown Airport and headed for the Eveleth-Virginia Municipal Airport. Wellstone was en route to the 11 a.m. funeral in Virginia of Martin Rukavina, father of state Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia.

Shortly after 10 a.m., the crew radioed the Eveleth airport and announced that they were approaching from the east and preparing to land on westbound Runway 27. The pilot then clicked his microphone button to automatically turn on the landing lights at the airport, which does not have a control tower.

At the time of the crash, the cloud ceiling at the airport was 700 feet. The visibility was reported at 2 miles, well above the one-mile minimum for a standard instrument landing. A light fog blanketed the area and a few snowflakes drifted to the ground. Winds were light.

Allen, the eyewitness, said the area is surrounded by swamps so the moisture does tend to created more fog. The unemployed millwright said it appeared the plane was just coming out of the clouds at about 100 feet when it was above his home. With the plane so low "it appeared to me maybe they thought they were landing," Allen said.

A 16-person team of investigators from the NTSB began picking through the site around daybreak Saturday and continued working through a cold, overcast day.

Crews rode all-terrain vehicles to the site, about half a mile from the nearest road, and had to vary their routes to avoid becoming mired in the swamp with up to 2 feet of water. They later brought in logging machinery to build a makeshift road to the site.

"It's a tough trip," said Carmody. "It makes getting equipment, people and things out there difficult. We all walked out with a shovel apiece because we had to help get gear out there."

Officials said the wreckage was scattered over a relatively small impact area with most of the debris confined to an elevated patch roughly 300 by 190 feet on mostly dry ground. The post-crash fire consumed the cockpit and fuselage and the only recognizable parts remaining were the tail and part of the wings.

"It looks like a tremendous fire pit," said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Medical examiners removed the remains of the victims Saturday afternoon and expect to complete post-mortem investigation today, officials said.

One of Wellstone's two sons visited the crash site Friday night, Carmody said. The NTSB will arrange visits for other family members who want them, possibly today.

"We've found through the sad experience we've had with accidents over the years that family members do like to go and see where their loved ones died," Carmody said. "It gives them a sort of closure, it gives them a degree of peace. It's a difficult thing to do. But most of them find it useful and most of them want to go. For those who want to go we make it possible. We always do it as soon as we reasonably can."

Posted by anonymous @ 10/27/2002 05:08 AM EST

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