Minutes Before Fatal Plane Crash, 'You Guys Are Crazy'

NTSB report is out on 2019 crash that killed 9 of 12 members of Idaho family on board
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 9, 2022 1:07 AM CDT
Updated May 14, 2022 3:35 PM CDT
Minutes Before Fatal Plane Crash, 'You Guys Are Crazy'
Stock photo   (Getty Images / Tonic R)

Federal investigators confirmed that the buildup of ice on the wings and other parts of the plane was a key factor in a 2019 crash that killed nine of 12 members of an Idaho family on board an overloaded small plane, the AP reports. The National Transportation Safety Board said in its report on the November 30, 2019 crash near Chamberlain, South Dakota, that the single-engine plane didn't even have enough seats for all the passengers aboard, and two people were likely seated in the aisles when it crashed shortly after takeoff. The report said the plane was about 100 pounds overweight, according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. The crash killed nine members of the Hansen family from Idaho Falls, Idaho. They were returning home from an annual pheasant-hunting trip in South Dakota when the plane crashed.

The report said the pilot made several key errors that contributed to the crash including failing to remove all the snow and ice from the plane even though a witness told investigators that the pilot and a passenger spent three hours clearing snow and ice before takeoff. Per East Idaho News, that witness told investigators that the pilot told him the ladder they brought from the lodge was not tall enough to reach the top of the tail. Carey Story, who owns the lodge where the family was staying, said she urged the family to stay another night because of the snow storm but the pilot refused and said they needed to get home. The report said the pilot told Story “the airplane was 98% good and the remaining ice would come off during takeoff.”

But the report said that 10 minutes before takeoff there were visible icicles hanging from the plane’s horizontal stabilizer, and snow was falling heavily. Video from the crash, and a transcript of communications with the tower indicate the runway was at least partly covered with snow. A cockpit recording captures an airport employee telling the pilot as he prepared to take off, "I don’t know what you guys are thinkin'" and "You guys are crazy." Previously, the NTSB said three of the Pilatus PC12 plane’s warning systems—the stall warning, stick shaker, and stick pusher—activated within seconds of liftoff. The plane only managed to climb 460 feet into the air before it crashed less than a mile from the Chamberlain airport.

(Read more plane crash stories.)

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