Tour Plane Crash Kills 8 in Arizona : Aviation: Four airline workers and four Japanese executives die in attempted emergency landing.

<i> From Associated Press</i>

A plane trying to make an emergency landing spun out of control and slammed into hilly terrain Saturday, killing all eight people on board.

The plane, owned by Adventure Airlines, a Las Vegas tour company, was on a business trip to Yellowstone Park, according to Wayne Hoffman, the company’s owner.

Hoffman said four company employees were on the flight along with four Japanese executives.


“They were on a business trip to Yellowstone, but I don’t know the specifics,” said Hoffman, who lives in San Diego and is not actively involved in the management of the company.

Hoffman told Associated Press that he did not know what relationship the four Japanese had with the company.

Authorities identified the pilot as Adventure Airlines employee Billy Dan Atkins from southern Nevada. His age was not available.

Authorities also identified a woman employee, Samon Unroe, 22, also of southern Nevada.

The other six people were identified but their next of kin still needed to be notified, authorities said.

The twin-engine Cessna 421 left the North Las Vegas airport at 7:26 a.m. on a flight to West Yellowstone, Mont., according to Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Hank Verbais. He said the pilot reported engine trouble a short time later and requested permission to return to the airport.

He was directed to a landing field near Mesquite, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The plane crashed at 8:40 a.m. about one mile from the runway on the Arizona side of the state line.


Lloyd Ewles of Beaver Dam, Ariz., said he witnessed the crash and said the plane did “three perfect corkscrews and then it went straight down.”

He said he didn’t hear any engines running.

“It spun and dropped,” he said. “It just stopped. It went dead still. And that was it.”

Mesquite Police Chief P. Michael Murphy said at a news conference that the aircraft crashed in hilly, sandy terrain, and four-wheel drive vehicles were needed to reach the site.

Members of the media were not allowed into the area.

Murphy said the plane was intact and he was able to walk around inside the craft. The bodies had not been removed as of early afternoon while the Mohave County coroner’s office conducted its investigation.

Investigators from the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board responded to the scene.

An Adventure Airlines Cessna 402 crashed just after takeoff from the west rim of the Grand Canyon on June 19, 1992, killing the pilot and all nine passengers. The crash was blamed on engine problems.

Adventure Airlines is one of numerous Las Vegas companies involved in aerial tours of the Grand Canyon and other Western attractions.