Jenni Rivera's Plane Hit Ground at 600mph

Pilot was 78 years old, transport officials say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2012 2:16 AM CST

(Newser) – Nobody in the plane carrying Mexican-American superstar Jenni Rivera and six others ever stood a chance, Mexico's chief transport official says. The Lear jet came down almost vertically from more than 28,000 feet and hit the ground at a speed probably greater than 600mph, the official says. "The plane practically nose-dived," he told a Mexican radio station. "The impact must have been terrible." A pilot's certificate found in the wreckage shows that the pilot was qualified to fly, but was 78 years old, the AP reports.

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Lear jets can fly at close to the speed of sound and pilots and safety experts say that leaves little margin for error. A nose dive like the one Rivera's plane went into could have been caused by a drastic failure of flight controls, according to a former board member at the NTSB, which is assisting Mexican investigators. "The airplane flies faster than the human mind (can keep up) sometimes," he says. "It takes a lot of skill to stay in front of that airplane." Authorities are performing DNA tests on the human remains found in the wreckage. (Read more Jenni Rivera stories.)

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