Two Dozen Killed In NE Oklahoma Airplane Crashes Since 2008

Monday, July 12th 2010, 1:29 pm
By: News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Six people were killed just last weekend in two separate plane crashes. But you may be surprised to learn just how many crashes there have been over the past two years.

Air traffic is constant at Jones Riverside Airport in Jenks.

"This is one of the busiest airports in the United States," said John Van Harn, a private pilot.

Both private and corporate airplanes come and go on the fly.

"A lot of people don't realize how many take-offs and landings there are here at Riverside because of Spartan Aviation and also because we have a very active pilot population here," Van Harn said.

However, the greater the percentage of takeoffs and landings, the greater the percentage of crashes.

Since January 2008, northeastern Oklahoma has seen 11 airplane crashes with 24 people killed. (Information from

  • 1/16/2008      Tulsa              1
  • 8/11/2008      Muskogee        1
  • 9/28/2008      Collinsville        2
  • 12/28/2008    Tulsa               2
  • 1/29/2009      Miami              1
  • 9/5/2009        Tulsa              5
  • 10/14/2009     Tahlequah       2
  • 2/28/2010       Bristow           2
  • 5/29/2010       Collinsville       2
  • 7/10/2010       Tulsa              3
  • 7/11/2010       Owasso          3

"That's a big part of learning how to fly is to know what kind of weather you can handle, what kind of situations you can handle because you always have to plan for the unexpected," Van Harn said.

The NTSB is still investigating what caused the Cessna to crash on Saturday.

7/11/2010 Related story: Victims Identified In Fatal Saturday Night Tulsa Plane Crash

"When you go up in the air, you are literally putting your life in the hands of your plane and also in the hand of your own ability as a pilot," said Van Harn. "So you have to be thinking about that."

Tulsa Police say the plane was scheduled to land at Jones Riverside. They say the pilot radioed in that he may have been out of fuel.

The crash late Saturday night in Mohawk Park, just north of Tulsa International Airport, killed 51-year-old Chief Operating Officer Chase Bales, 41-year-old President Mats Malmberg and 37-year-old Chief Financial Officer Damian Riddoch.  All worked for US Highland, Inc

Several officials with the Glenpool motorcycle manufacturer released statements in the wake of the crash.

Statement from Dr. Steven A. Moell, Chief Executive Officer of US Highland, Inc.:

"This is a human tragedy beyond imagination. Our hearts and prayers go out to their families. No words can describe the loss the families are experiencing. It was an honor to work with these three men and I know they would want us to continue to build US Highland into a leading U.S. powersports company. They were all true visionaries and will be deeply missed."

Statement from Bengt Andersson, Chairman of US Highland, Inc.:

"I know everyone including myself at US Highland will sincerely miss Mats, Chase and Damian. I always had a strong respect for their work ethic and strong level of integrity. My deepest condolences go out to their families."

Officials say Mats Malmberg is survived by his wife and three children, Chase Bales is survived by his wife and two children and Damian Riddoch is survived by his wife and four children.

All three were returning from a business trip to Michigan.

Some of the professional pilots the News On 6 spoke to say it's a general rule of thumb for pilots to keep at least a half hours worth of fuel left in the tank.