A twin-engine plane crashed Wednesday after a woman radioed flight officials that her husband had died and she didn't know how to fly the aircraft. The woman survived the crash and the man was found dead, authorities said.
The woman flew the Cessna Skymaster for more than an hour before it crashed about three miles from the airport here, police Sgt. Larry Perdue said. The man's body was found in the plane, and the woman had been thrown about 20 yards from the wreckage, he said.
The woman, whose name was not released, was listed in stable condition at Washington Regional Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Chris Krueger said.
Two men in another airplane made radio contact with the woman, identified only by her first name, Faye.
Coming Out of the Clouds
According to one of the men, Lynn Goodrich, the woman radioed just before crashing: "I'm coming in out of the clouds, guys."
She then paused and said: "I'm underneath the clouds, guys, and I don't think I have any power," according to Goodrich.
Goodrich said he told her she was three miles from their plane and added: "Don't go back into the clouds."
Then he asked her, "Faye, this is Lynn. Can you hear me?"
There was no response, apparently because the plane had crashed at that moment.
Laura Lea Bryant, 19, said she watched from her front porch as the plane crashed in a pasture.
"It was coming southbound and it went over our neighbor's house, and it looked like it would hit another field, and then it just rode over our land and crashed," she said. "It went back up and then looked like it was going to land elsewhere and then crashed."
The plane skimmed the tops of some trees before crashing.
Took Off at 3
A middle-age couple from out of town left the Bentonville airport in the plane around 3 p.m., said Mary Jarnagan of the Benton County Flight Service.
About 45 minutes later, the woman radioed a Mayday saying her husband had died and she did not know how to fly the plane, said Roy Fuqua, a flight controller at the airport in Springdale, who monitored the SOS call.
Coroner Joe Rhine said he did not know if the man had died before or after the crash.
"According to her, he died before the crash," Rhine said. "It was impossible to tell at the scene."
An autopsy was ordered by the Federal Aviation Administration.