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Eighteen Dead After Plane Crash in ColoradoAired March 30, 2001 - 5:30 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JASON CARROLL, CNN ANCHOR: Eighteen people are dead this morning after a chartered plane crashed near Aspen, Colorado, last night.
CNN national correspondent Mike Boettcher joins us by phone from Aspen with the very latest.
Good morning, Mike -- what can you tell us from there?
MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jason, investigators have cordoned off the scene. The Pitkin County Sheriff's Office has blocked off Highway 82, which is the main highway leading into this resort area, Aspen, Colorado.
The accident occurred at 7:00 p.m. yesterday evening as the plane was making an approach, an instrument landing approach, into Aspen Airport.
The weather was not good. Visibility was low, and there were moderate to light snow showers at the time.
Investigators have been sifting through the wreckage of the aircraft for most of the evening, and they tell me that there are only small pieces left and an impact crater.
Eyewitnesses say they saw the plane in trouble as it was trying to land. They saw it in a strange nose-up attitude.
Investigators from the NTSB should be arriving here within the next couple of hours.
The plane took off from Burbank Airport and then stopped at Los Angeles International Airport, to pick up passengers. Then, the Gulfstream business jet proceeded on its ill-fated flight to Aspen, Colorado.
Now, this is a very tricky airport to land in.
CNN correspondent Charles Feldman, who is also a pilot, describes the difficulties of coming into this airport.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The higher you go above sea level, the more the different weather conditions that prevail are exaggerated, if you will. So very often, wind, for example, that might not be a problem for an aircraft at sea level, when you're up at 6,000 or 7,000 feet or higher, can be much more severe. You have mountainous conditions. Mountains themselves create turbulence; they create up and down drafts that can cause an aircraft to not have as stable an approach as a pilot might want to have.
The density of the air is different as you go higher than it is at sea level, so the aircraft generates a different amount of lift. The engines create a different amount of thrust.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOETTCHER: Aspen Airport is surrounded on three sides by mountains. So in bad weather on an instrument approach, there's one way in and one way out, and that is the north approach. That is the approach that the aircraft was trying to make to this airport.
The bodies of the victims, as of one hour ago, we're told by the Sheriff's Department, are still at the site, and we do not have the identities of those victims. There is a press conference scheduled for 7:00 a.m. Eastern time, 5:00 a.m. Mountain time. We should know more then -- Jason.
CARROLL: OK, Mike, as you were talking there, we've been looking at some of the video that's been coming into our newsroom here, especially of some of the small pieces that you were talking about.
Can you give us a sense of some of the first things investigators are going to do, once they get out there, to try to determine exactly what caused this crash?
BOETTCHER: Well, the NTSB is very methodical. They'll break up into teams. Some will check with the control tower on the weather. They will look to see if there are any sort of flight recorders or voice recorders. They will take a look at the impact point, take a look at the crater, take a look at the engines. They don't come into an investigation assuming it's the weather or it's the engines. They start from scratch, look at everything, and then take several months to figure out what it is.
So we probably will not know the cause for a long time, but the weather certainly will be one of the aspects of this investigation that will be looked at closely.
CARROLL: OK, Mike Boettcher, coming to us from Aspen, Colorado, thanks so very much for that.
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