NTSB Papers On Wellstone And Stratoliner
Icing appears to be the focus of the NTSB's investigation into the crash in Minnesota last October of a Beech King Air carrying Sen. Paul Wellstone and members of his family. Meanwhile, in Washington State, fuel starvation appears to be the cause of the emergency ditching of a historic Boeing Stratoliner near Seattle last March. The NTSB released documents on both investigations on Friday. In neither case does the NTSB draw final conclusions about the mishaps. According to NTSB documents, Richard Conry, the pilot of Wellstone's chartered flight, considered canceling the flight because of possible icing but elected to press on when the weather improved. Wellstone himself had been encouraged to take the flight by another pilot who had just arrived at St. Paul Downtown Airport on a flight from Duluth. According to the NTSB papers, the unidentified pilot told Wellstone "the weather was at minimums, but the pilots could handle it." The plane went down about 2.5 miles from Eleveth-Virginia Municipal Airport. In Seattle, documents released by the NTSB said veteran Boeing test pilots at the controls of the Stratoliner watched helplessly as the power dropped in one engine and a fuel-pressure warning light came on. Moments later, the crew ditched the powerless airliner 50 feet from shore in Elliot Bay in front of a seaside restaurant full with the lunch crowd. None of the four crew members was hurt and the plane will be repaired by June.