Plane crash at Huntsville International Airport leaves three dead (UPDATED)Published 5:35pm Wednesday, June 18, 2014
By Nick Sellers | Staff Reporter
HUNTSVILLE – An afternoon plane crash on June 18 at Huntsville International Airport left three dead, acting P.R. director Karen Yarbrough confirmed at a 4 p.m. press conference that day.
Pieces of information have come in since the accident, including the names of the three individuals: William Christopher II, 57, Kenneth Lynn Rousseau, 67, and Robin Gary Smith, 60. Christopher was from Center Point, Ala., Rousseau was from Harpersville, Ala., and Smith, who was a flight instructor, was from Yukon, Okla.
Christopher was, from 2007-11, a contract employee with Boone Newspapers, Inc., which owns Madison Publications, LLC.
“Bill Christopher was a longtime corporate pilot for the company we are associated with, took very good care of us for many years,” said publisher Alan Brown. “He was an Eagle Scout and scoutmaster. We share the family’s grief in the loss of a fine man, a good father, friend and accomplished pilot.”
The plane was a 10-seater IAI (Israeli Aircraft Industries) Westwind II. The crash occurred in the western part of the facility near County Line Road.
Timothy Monville, Senior Air Safety Investigator with the NTSB, was able to give some details of the incident the day following the crash.
“By witness accounts, the aircraft climbed no more than 50-100 feet off the ground and was observed to bank hard or steep to the right,” he said. “The airplane impacted thus to the runway and was destroyed by impact in a push-crash fire.”
Monville said the occupants were in the process of a training exercise and were on the second attempt of a specific maneuver when the airplane banked and met the ground.
Yarbrough said emergency crews responded within minutes to the alert. Battalion chief Doug Young confirmed that Madison Fire Department’s Engine I, heavy rescue and Battalion I staff helped in the initial response to the crash.
The preliminary report will be released on the NTSB’s website within 10 days of the crash, and the full investigation could take up to a year, Monville said.