Saturday, March 24, 2012

Investigation continues into deadly plane crash - Longmont, Colorado

LONGMONT - Investigators are still on scene looking through the wreckage and trying to piece together the information they do have after a suspected midair plane collision in Longmont on Friday.

Instructor Ryan Brungardt, 30, and his student, 64-year-old Edward "Lee" Omohundro died when the single-engine Cessina apparently collided with another single-engine Cessina piloted by 72-year-old Beverly Cameron.

"It does make you reflect on life and how precious it is and how quickly it can be over for someone. Our hearts go out to the families because they were enjoying their life experiences and now they have to deal with this tragedy it makes you realize those vulnerabilities," Jeff Satur with the Longmont Police Department on Saturday at a news conference.

Brungardt's plane went down at 11:43 a.m. on Friday around Colorado Highway 119 and East County Line Road 1 in Longmont.

The Weld County Coroner's Office says Brungradt and Omohundro died instantly in the plane crash, which was near a Walmart.

"He just accelerated right into the ground, and that was it. I mean, one big boom and that was it," Joe Baker, a witness, said on Friday.

Cameron's plane crashed just north of the Vance Brand Municipal Airport entrance at 11:48 a.m. Friday. It crashed onto the property in between some hangers into some industrial equipment after taking out a power line. The plane landed backwards.

Witnesses say both planes crashed after they collided in the air.

"We're all human, regardless of what our jobs regardless of what we do, are we feel it. We have the families and the victims in our thoughts and prayers because regardless of the situation and the role you have in this situation, it's still a life that has been lost," Laura McConnell, Public Information Officer for Mountain View Fire Rescue, said.

The National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and several other organizations are still investigating the crash.

Around 2 p.m. on Saturday what was left of Brungardt's plane was loaded up onto a truck and hauled over to the other crash site.

9NEWS aviation expert and former NTSB investigator Greg Feith says it's a move that will help them better determine what happened.

"What they want to do is try and identify exactly what the impact angles are that the airplanes hit," Feith said. "What they're going to do is lay the wreckage out to see what part of one airplane struck the other. We know that the woman basically reported that she had rudder control problems or problems with the elevator in the rudder, that's the backend of the airplane. They're going to want to see where the [Cessna] 172 that crashed with the flight instructor and student actually struck that airplane."

Many people have been asking how this could have happened on such a nice day with clear skies and light winds. Feith says sometimes blind spots happen and it doesn't matter the conditions outside. He says this was near an airport on a nice day, so the open airspace became a very close airspace.

"For VFR traffic going in and out of Vance Brand Airport, as long as you stay below 10,000 feet it's what they call uncontrolled airspace. So it's now incumbent upon the pilots to do what we call 'see and avoid.' They're going to be looking out the window for other traffic. They're going to be making radio calls in the blind to provide other pilots position information," Feith said.

Feith says pilots need to let other pilots in the area know what their intentions are so they can avoid each other.

"There is no control tower so these two aircraft are not talking to anybody at Vance Brand Airport," Feith said.

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