Four Mississippians die in two separate plane crashes

Published 5:35 pm Thursday, July 20, 2006

Four Mississippians were killed in two separate plane crashes on Wednesday, federal and local officials said.

Two Jackson residents died and two others were injured when a small jet crashed Wednesday in a northeast Iowa cornfield, a federal official said.

The Cessna Citation turbo jet crashed at about 11 a.m. near the Cresco, Iowa airport, just south of the Minnesota border, said Elizabeth Isham Cory, a spokeswoman with the Federal Aviation Administration in Chicago.

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Pilots Clyde Lewis and William Eisner, both of Jackson, Miss., died in the crash, according to the Howard County sheriff’s office. Robert Paulk and Johnny Fayard of Gulfport, Miss., were hospitalized. Their ages and conditions were not immediately available.

The flight originated in Oxford, Miss., and was headed to Rochester, Minn., Cory said.

Another crash in Petal killed two people Wednesday when their single-engine Cessna 172 crashed into a field and burned, authorities said.

Forrest County Deputy Coroner Jonathan Nobles identified the victims as Jim Hartman, age unavailable, of Gulfport and Ernest R. “Buddy” Myrick, 92, of Petal. Autopsies were being conducted.

Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration were at the site late Wednesday to determine what caused the plane to crash at a private air strip near Trinity Baptist Church.

Petal Police Chief Lee Shelbourn said the crash caused no property damage, but it did cause a small grass fire that was extinguished.

In the Iowa crash, FAA records showed the jet is registered to Tomco II LLC, of Nashville, Tenn. Telephone calls placed to the company Wednesday went unanswered.

Cory said it was too soon to speculate on a cause of the crash.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating with local authorities, she said.

Glenn Lussky, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis., said thunderstorms were moving through the Cresco area Wednesday morning.

“From the radar that we looked at, it didn’t appear there was anything overly intense at the time but any time you get into an area where there is thunderstorm activity, your wind flows can be unpredictable,” he said. “Anytime you have downdraft and updraft associated with thunderstorms, you really do run the risk of changing your aerodynamic capabilities — the lift that is required to keep the airplane aloft.”