Mr. Timothy LeBaron (click to see Mr. LeBaron speaking) from Conroe, Texas, an Air Safety Investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, which is a non-regulatory federal agency answerable to Congress, briefed the media and provided additional information concerning yesterday's fatal plane crash at a press conference held this afternoon at the Sheriff's Office. The NTSB is responsible investigating crash sites and for making safety recommendations to other agencies and to aircraft manufacturers.
Two persons, 62 year old Robert Ross of Santa Cruz, California and his son, 32 year old Michael C. Ross of Austin, Texas were killed yesterday afternoon when the 1982 Cessna T-210 aircraft they were occupying crashed in a wooded area of Baxter County near the Buffalo City community.
Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, including Investigator LeBaron, have been on scene at the crash site since approximately 11:00 AM this morning, working in conjunction with Sheriff's Investigators. A representative from the Cessna Aircraft Company was also at the scene. Mr. LeBaron emphasized that his mission was to gather facts relevent to the crash in order to eliminate potential causes of the crash. These include determining whether there was fuel in the aircraft, whether the flight control cables were operational, and whether the engine was running at the time of the crash. The fact gathering mission will assist investigators with ultimately determining the probable cause of the crash.
Mr. LeBaron explained that at the main wreckage area, there was found the fuselage, engine, propeller, and one wing of the aircraft. He said there was evidence that the propeller was running at the time of the impact. By utilizing the Sheriff's Office helicopter, investigators were able to locate the second wing of the aircraft approximately 1/2 mile from the crash site. The tail section of the plane was also located some distance from the crash site. Mr. LeBaron stated there were still pieces of the plane that are missing, and he asked any persons who may subsequently find or locate pieces of the plane to contact the Sheriff's Office.
According to Mr. LeBaron, there are several potential reasons why one of the wings might separate from the aircraft. These include corrosion, exceeding stress levels for the aircraft, or other mechanical issues. All of these possibilities will be thoroughly investigated in the coming weeks.
It has not been determined whether Robert Ross or Michael Ross was piloting the plane, as both were licensed pilots. Mr. LeBaron expressed his condolences to their families and friends on behalf of all investigators and agencies involved.
Investigator LeBaron indicated that a Preliminary Report will be available at the NTSB web site, www.ntsb.gov in about one week. The Factual Report will be submitted in approximately six months to the 5 member Safety Board in Washington, DC, which has the responsibility of examining all the information and determining a probable cause of the crash. The Final Report will be available after the Board has reached its conclusion.
Mr. LeBaron plans to remain in Mountain Home until Friday morning. He said that Recovery Company will be on scene Thursday to collect and remove the wreckage of the aircraft. The wreckage will be stored in a secured facility in Clinton, Arkansas until such time as the investigation is complete.
/s/ John F. Montgomery,
Baxter County Sheriff