Crashed plane's voice recorder arrives in Washington
ASPEN, Colorado (CNN) -- A cockpit voice recorder from the plane crash that killed all 18 people aboard arrived in Washington Friday for analysis.
As the so-called black box was delivered to the headquarters of the National Transportation Safety Board, investigators examined wreckage at an airport outside Aspen, Colorado, to determine why the Gulfstream III crashed into a nearby mountain during landing.
Experts also will examine data from the recorder in an effort to explain the crash.
"The flight crew did tell the airport they had the runway in sight," Scott said, adding that it appeared the chartered aircraft had been in line with the runway at Sardy Field Airport, about a mile northwest of Aspen.
Scott said the bodies of all 18 people aboard the plane had been recovered. At least two of the victims were news staffers at Los Angeles television station KTTV. They have been identified as assignment editor Mir Tukhi and news desk assistant Marisa Whitham.
The plane was chartered from Burbank, California, on Thursday and made a stop at Los Angeles International Airport before taking off for Aspen at about 4 p.m. Two hours later, the plane was down just 500 yards short of the runway.
Avjet's charter service caters to celebrities, fueling speculation that someone famous may have been aboard the plane. But the release of a passenger manifest in Burbank by Avjet President Marc Foulkrod dismissed such speculation.
Foulkrod said the plane's captain had more than 10,000 flying hours, flight-simulator training and was familiar with the Aspen airport.
"Our deepest and most heartfelt concerns continue to go out to all the families of the passengers and crew," Foulkrod said. "Avjet is assisting family members in every possible way."
'Gee, that thing is very low'
Witnesses said the plane struck a hill and then plunged across a 200-foot culvert between the hill and the airport before slamming into a bluff, known as Shale Bluff, short of the runway.
"It was probably about 200 feet in front of me and 100 feet in the air and it lurched," witness Greg Reszel told The Associated Press. "It was going very, very slowly, so much so that for a minute I thought it was a helicopter.
"There was no noise, I heard no engine noise, and then after that lurch it was almost vertical in the air and it went across the road and slammed into the hillside ...," he added.
Ron Harding was with his wife and four other people traveling from Snowmass, Colorado, to Aspen when the plane flew over their car and then out of sight.
"We thought, 'Gee, that thing is very low,'" he said. "Before anybody could think too much, we heard a loud noise and saw a massive fireball."
"By the time we got around to the other side of the hill, it was just fire everyplace, debris going up and down the hill, some going out onto the highway," he said.
Airport difficult to approach
Firefighters said a small fire was burning when they arrived. Debris, including pieces of seats, insulation and the fuselage, was scattered for at least 300 feet.
The debris showed the plane lost its tail when it hit the hillside and fell apart as it plunged across the culvert.
A statement from the airport said the plane was attempting an instrument landing as it approached the airport.
CNN Correspondent Charles Feldman, a licensed pilot, said the Aspen airport is difficult to approach. Surrounded by Rocky Mountains towering as much as 3,500 feet above its lone runway, the airport warns approaching pilots that "high rates of descent may be required due to terrain."
"Mountains and valleys create turbulence," Feldman said. "That create updrafts and downdrafts that make (the atmosphere) less stable than it would otherwise be."
CNN Meteorologist Karen Maginnis said some snow and rain were in the region at the time of the crash.
The airport is at an elevation of 7,815 feet.
Caribbean commuter plane crash kills 20
Pitkin County Sheriff's Department
U.S. doubles Gulf forces
Case resigns as AOL chairman
New Yorkers look to plans for fractured skyline
Man stabbed in NY subway station
Search for missing woman continues
Climbers lost on Mount Hood found alive
N. Y. plans to heal skyline
Stocks rise on Case departure
Lieberman's presidential announcement today
New arrests may be linked to UK ricin scare
Jordan says farewell for the third time
Shaq could miss playoff game for child's birth
Ex-USOC official says athletes bent drug rules
|Back to the top||
© 2003 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.