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Breaking News Home | All | Religion | Society | Tech | Choice | FF | SA News
FRONT PAGE  |  2/27/2017
Choice News WEDNESDAY, JAN 8, 2003
BJU Student Aboard US Airways Express Flight


Commuter aircraft slammed into Charlotte hangar; Air Midwest Flight 5481 was departing for Greenville-Spartanburg

From www.bju.edu:

Bob Jones University is saddened by the loss of one of our University family. Freshman, Christiana Shepherd, was a passenger on Midwest Flight 5481 that crashed in Charlotte, Wednesday morning.

Christiana was remembered during the first chapel session of the new year. Flags were lowered to half-staff in her memory.

We are thankful that we have the promise that we will one day join Christiana to enjoy eternity with our Savior, Jesus Christ, and that we can rest in the comfort of His presence during this time of sadness.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A commuter plane crashed into a maintenance hangar and burst into flames Wednesday at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, killing all 21 people aboard.

The cause of the crash -- the deadliest U.S. air accident in nearly 14 months -- wasn't immediately clear.

US Airways Express Flight 5481, a Beech 1900 twin-engine turboprop, was taking off in clear, windy weather when it hit the corner of the hangar at full throttle just before 9 a.m., officials said.

Benjamin Witkege told The Charlotte Observer that the plane attracted his attention as he and his girlfriend, Erin Murphy, arrived at the airport.

"The plane was climbing too steep," said Witkege, 19, of Roanoke, Va. "I told her, 'It looks like that plane is not doing right."'

As they stopped to watch, the plane moved into a twisting dive.

"I was sick to my stomach," Murphy, 21, said.

Nineteen passengers and two crew members were aboard the flight, which was operated by Air Midwest and headed to Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown.

The plane took off to the south and veered sharply back toward the airport and crashed into the US Airways hangar, airport director Jerry Orr said.

"The plane is so destroyed there's not much to see," said Charlotte police spokesman Keith Bridges. "It's just a horrible sight."

The pilot contacted the tower after takeoff and indicated an emergency, FAA spokesman Greg Martin said. "However, it was cut short and the emergency was never identified," Martin said.

The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched a team of investigators. They were expected to check into possible engine failure or pilot error, whether ice was on the wings or whether the flaps deployed correctly, said Chuck Eastlake, an aerospace engineering professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla.

"Any airplane that crashes on takeoff, whether it rolled over its back or not, probably is a candidate for engine failure to look at," Eastlake said.

Martin said the plane should have had a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder.


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