Preliminary Report: Prepurchase flight goes awry

 - January 16, 2008, 9:04 AM
BEECH 1900C, EAGLETON, ARK., DEC. 9, 2002–The 1900C (N127YV), registered to and operated by Raytheon Aircraft Services of Wichita, crashed some nine miles short of its destination–Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport (M39), Ark.

According to the NTSB the accident occurred at approximately 11:40 a.m. CDT. It took searchers almost two days to find and reach the wreckage, which was located in rugged mountainous terrain. All three occupants, including the two ATP-rated pilots, were killed and the aircraft was destroyed. VMC prevailed and a VFR flight plan had been filed.

The flight originated in Wichita, and because all three occupants were pilots it was unclear who was flying the aircraft. According to the NTSB, the aircraft appeared to have crashed at a “fairly level angle,” so it is unlikely that it was either descending or turning at the time of impact. The cause of the accident has not yet been determined.

John “Jack” McFarlane, 63, a former Raytheon employee, and James Henning, 41, were acting as contract pilots taking a potential customer for a prepurchase flight, according to a Raytheon Aircraft spokesman. The passenger was Ron Tweto, president of Anchorage, Alaska-based Hageland Aviation Services. McFarlane and Henning were accompanying Tweto, who planned to buy the airplane, to Mena, where the airplane had recently been refurbished. Tweto had to pick up and sign some papers there.

According to the NTSB, the crew’s last radio contact with ATC occurred about 10 miles from Mena. A search party was dispatched at about 6 p.m. While rain and fog prevented an aerial search Tuesday morning, by that afternoon the weather had cleared and a search airplane spotted the wreckage. The rugged terrain forced searchers to hike to the crash site.