PIPER CHEYENNE, GRAHAM, TEXAS, NOV. 12, 2001–Three passengers and the pilot died when the turboprop crashed while on approach in night IMC. Preliminary weather reports gathered from Mineral Wells, Texas, the nearest reporting station some 32 mi southeast, showed clouds at 600 ft broken, 7,000 ft broken, four miles visibility in mist, temperature 15 deg C, dew point 14 deg C and winds 140 deg at eight knots. Witnesses told the NTSB conditions were quite foggy. No IFR flight plan was filed. ATC provided VFR flight following for the Cheyenne to 3,000 ft, the base of radar coverage, about eight miles southwest of the accident site.
The Part 91 flight originated in Wharton (Texas) Airport (5R5) just west of Houston. Delwin Burch, the 66-year-old pilot, was a constable for Young County besides flying for Texas oilman Tommy Littlepage, who also was on board. Burch had flown for Littlepage in several of his previous aircraft; the Cheyenne was a new acquisition.
On the morning following the flight, relatives of two other passengers reported the airplane’s failure to arrive. Local police and fire departments initiated a search, which was aided by Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens, the CAP and other volunteers. The wreckage was found nearly three days after the accident just north of the projected final approach course into Graham Municipal Airport (E15).
According to the NTSB, the airplane’s wings, elevator, vertical stabilizer and both engines were found separated from impact forces. The NTSB told AIN both engines appear to have been operating at the time of the crash. The investigation is continuing.