Icing to blame for deadly NJ highway plane crash?

December 21, 2011 2:08:40 PM PST
Federal investigators are resuming their search for wreckage from a fiery plane crash that killed five people in northern New Jersey on Tuesday.

The single-engine plane was carrying two investment bankers and three others from New Jersey to Georgia when it crashed on Interstate 287. All five people were killed along with a dog that was on board.

An audio recording of air traffic controllers talking to the pilot revealed they warned about icing conditions up to 17,000 feet. Investigators say the plane had requested clearance to climb to 17,500 feet before it spun out of control and crashed.

Witnesses said the plane looked as though it was performing aerobatic tricks.

Killed were investment bankers Jeffrey Buckalew and Rakesh Chawla as well as Buckalew's wife and two children.

The plane came down around 10 a.m. in the wooded area separating the north and southbound lanes of the highway between Exit 30/North Maple Avenue and Exit 35/South Street in Harding, New Jersey.

The plane belonged to Buckalew, who was an experienced pilot.

The Socata TBM-700 single-engine turboprop had departed from nearby Teterboro Airport when it disappeared from radar, said FAA spokesman Jim Peters.

Wreckage was scattered over at least a half mile, with a section found lodged in a tree of a home about a quarter-mile away, near a highway entrance ramp. The crash closed both sides of the busy highway for hours, though several lanes were open again in time for the evening rush hour.

Chris Covello of Rockaway Township said he saw the plane spin out of control from the car dealership where he works in Morristown, near the site of the crash.

"It was like the plane was doing tricks or something, twirling and flipping. It started going straight down. I thought any second they were going to pull up. But then the wing came off and they went straight down," he said.


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