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‘She’s going down’: Pilot reported engine problems before fatal Missouri plane crash

Plane crash kills pilot in Bates County, Missouri

A dual-prop airplane crashed into a grain bin in rural Bates County near Butler, Missouri, killing the pilot, according to Missouri Highway Patrol. The pilot was the only person aboard at the time of the crash.
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A dual-prop airplane crashed into a grain bin in rural Bates County near Butler, Missouri, killing the pilot, according to Missouri Highway Patrol. The pilot was the only person aboard at the time of the crash.

The 80-year-old pilot killed in a June 10 plane crash in rural Bates County, Missouri, reported to an air traffic controller he was having problems with one of the plane’s engines, according to a preliminary crash report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The pilot requested to change his destination to the nearest airport, which was Butler Memorial Airport. But before the plane could make it there, the pilot said, “She’s going down.”

John N. McConnell Jr., the chairman emeritus of Kansas City laboratory Equipment company Labconco Corp., died when the plane crashed into a grain bin near Butler, Missouri.

McConnell_Dec2017 photo
John N. McConnell Jr., chairman emeritus of Labconco Corp. Labconco Corp.

McConnell took off in a Cesna turboprop twin-engine plane shortly before 6 a.m. Central Time from Vero Beach Municipal Airport in Vero Beach, Florida, headed to New Century AirCenter Airport in Olathe, according to the NTSB report.

As McConnell prepared to descend to set up his approach into Olathe, he told an air traffic controller that he was having problems slowing the power on the right engine. McConnell told the controller that he would lower his landing gear and continue on to Olathe. He planned to shut down the right engine as he got within range of the airport, according to the report.

As the plane continued to descend, he advised the controller that the right engine was still stuck at full power and that he was going to have to shut it down. McConnell then requested to change his destination to the nearest airport. The controller advised the nearest one was eight miles away in Butler.

McConnell had problems getting the airport in sight as he descended, but eventually advised he did. The controller told McConnell that he would have a possible tailwind if landing on Runway 18. McConnell replied that he would go around and set up for Runway 36.

As the plane continued to descend, the controller asked McConnell if he had the airport in sight.

This time, McConnell told the controller to stand by, saying, “I am trying to get this thing under control.”

He then told the controller that “she’s going down” and that he was going to try to land on a highway.

A witness saw the plane flying at low altitude, nosing down toward a field, according to the report. The plane crashed into a 75-foot-tall grain silo and fell to the ground, about four miles from the Butler airport.

The wreckage was moved to a secure facility so a detailed examination of the airframe, fuel system and engines could be conducted. Examination of the engine accessories are ongoing, according to the report.

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