A 52-year-old Lawrence man was killed when the Federal Express cargo plane he was flying went down shortly after takeoff from Mid-Continent Airport on Tuesday morning, authorities said.
The crash was reported at 7:46 a.m. in the 9800 block of West 47th Street South, according to the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office.
The pilot, confirmed by authorities as Brian Quinn, reported engine trouble shortly after taking off from Mid-Continent for a flight to Garden City, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinari said. Quinn was attempting to return to the airport when the plane went down about two miles south of the airport.
The 1991 single-engine turboprop Cessna Caravan came to rest in a tree row north of 47th Street South between Maize and Tyler, Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Capt. Annette Haga said.
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The plane “had apparently landed prior to hitting the tree row but did collide with the tree row,” Haga said in a media briefing near the scene of the crash. “There is not debris through the field.”
While there was a report of a fire in the area of the crash at the time the plane went down, Haga said, “we do not have an engulfed airplane.”
Quinn was the sole occupant aboard the plane, Haga said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
“It did have cargo on board, but I have no idea how much,” she said.
In communication with air traffic controllers, the pilot called Mayday and said he had engine trouble and oil on the windshield, which made it difficult to see, according to a tape of the communication posted on LiveATC.net.
He asked a controller for a check of the winds, and seconds later said he was going down in a grass field a mile and a half south of the airport.
The FAA was on scene Tuesday, Molinari said, but the National Transportation and Safety Board will be the lead agency in the investigation.
The Caravan is one of the safest general aviation airplanes in operation, said David Dewhirst, head of airplane management company Sabris Corp.
In the past 10 years, there have been seven accidents due to engine failures, none of them fatal.
During that time, the Caravan has been involved in a total of 61 accidents, seven of them fatal. All fatalities were due to pilot error, Dewhirst said his research shows. This was the first fatality from engine failure during that time, according to his data.
Contributing Molly McMillin of The Eagle.