Broken Arrow Man Killed In East Texas Plane Crash, Cause Under Investigation

Tuesday, November 27th 2012, 8:06 am
By: Craig Day

We have new information on the fiery plane crash that killed a pilot and businessman headed home to Tulsa.

Tom Steeper, 64, was killed when his plane crashed in East Texas.

The FAA and NTSB are now working to figure out what caused the plane to go down

Investigators say it was just before 9:30 Monday night, when air traffic controllers lost radar and radio contact with Tom Steepers' twin engine Cessna.

FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said in a news release that the pilot had been trying to avoid bad weather in East Texas near Redtown in Angelina County when the plane vanished from radar.

"It looks like he was looking for a hole to get through the weather," said Woody Lesikar, manager of the West Houston Airport. "It shows the airplane for about 20 minutes moving back and forth, to north and south, probably something happened right before."

The plane exploded on impact during a thunderstorm.

Judy Tobias, who lives near Redtown, said, "Everything was melted down, you couldn't even find the back of the plane, everything was just gone."

"There was a big fire over there, so we took off running as fast as we could," said witness Bill Dyson.

Search crews located the wreckage in a field outside Wells, Texas, about 140 miles northeast of Houston.

Family members said Steeper, who was the president of an engineering consulting firm in Broken Arrow, was returning from a business trip and was the only person on board.

The plane was flying from a west Houston airport to Jones Riverside airport in Tulsa.

"It's just really a sad day for the aviation community here in Tulsa," said Bill Christiansen with Christiansen Aviation.

He said the aviation community based out of Jones Riverside Airport is a close-knit group.

"We take it solemnly at best, and you know, pray for the family and the occupants of the airplane and just try to learn and go forward," Christiansen said.

Investigators will examine the charred wreckage of the plane to determine what caused the crash.

The FAA and NTSB should have a preliminary report within the next couple of weeks.

A full investigation could take nine months to a year to determine what caused the crash.