Tupelo pilot made two calls to airport wanting to turn back - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tupelo pilot made two calls to airport wanting to turn back

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5) (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
TUPELO, MS (WMC) -

National Traffic Safety Board officials said they will be wrapping up their on-site investigation of the Tupelo plane crash Tuesday

NTSB lead investigators Millicent Hoital said Henry Jackson made two requests to return to the Tupelo airport.

"The pilot made two radio calls wanting to return to the airport because of smoke in the cockpit," Hoital said. He was cleared to return to the airport, but never made it back.

The cause of the smoke in the cockpit has not been determined and, according to Hoital, could have been caused by a variety of reasons.

Lee County Coroner Carolyn Green identified the victims as the pilot Henry L. Jackson, 75, his wife Gwynn Groggle, 70, Dr. Charles Torti, 69, and Carrie Torti, 59. All four individuals were from Kerrville, Texas.

"These two couples loved to travel together," Green said. "Mr. Jackson had been a pilot for a number of years."

The plane is a Beech Bonanza, a single-engine, six-seat aircraft registered to a company in Texas. The police chief said a mechanical issue could have caused the crash. 

Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton said the plane was fully loaded with fuel when it took off, bound for Virginia, and the nature of the crash caused it to burst into flames.

The plane crashed on a small access road, on property belonging to the City of Tupelo, less than a mile from the Tupelo airport. The road leads to a sewage treatment plant.

When asked about a voice recorder or 'black box', as most commercial airplanes are known to have and utilize, Hoital said the aircraft did not have one of those data recorders on board.

Mayor Shelton re-emphasized the accident was not a reflection of any safety issue at the airport. He referenced previous crashes which have occurred at the airport, and mentioned the causes of those crashes, such as not enough fuel to reach the airport, landing gear malfunctions, and fuel line problems. 

"Airplanes are machines and they have mechanical breakdowns," Shelton said. "This is a very safe airport."

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