Oklahoma pilot dies in Arkansas plane crash

Wednesday, December 17th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MENA, Ark. (AP) _ The pilot of a single-engine plane died when his aircraft crashed in a remote, mountainous area of western Arkansas.

Randolph P. Read, 48, of Owasso, Okla., was found dead Tuesday afternoon. Read was an engineering consultant and a part-time minister.

He had been expected at the Mena airport Monday to pick up a passenger and continue on to Trinity, Texas.

Read was flying the Beechcraft H35 V-tail from Tulsa, Okla., when the aircraft disappeared from radar Monday, said Vicki Hendrix, a secretary to Polk County Sheriff Mike Oglesby.

Search teams from Polk and Scott counties worked through Monday night, but couldn't find the wreckage until an Air Evac medical transport ambulance out of Paris, Ark., flew over the mountains Tuesday morning at about 10:30.

Search teams spent all afternoon Tuesday trying to climb to the crash site on Black Fork Mountain, near the Rich Mountain community.

The crash site was still burning late Tuesday afternoon, and Oglesby's search team was still a half-mile away, trying to lead transport mules and equipment along rugged terrain. An emergency response team finally located Read's remains at the crash site about 4 p.m.

Federal investigators were expected at the scene Wednesday.

Rev. John Budd of Trinity, Texas, said he had flown his plane from Trinity to Mena to have it painted at D and T Aircraft, a company at the airport that Read had recommended to him. He said Read was to pick him up and take him and another friend, Mark Bollier, also of Trinity, back to Trinity.

Budd said the cloud ceiling around Mena on Monday morning was low and the winds were so turbulent it took him and Bollier, also a pilot, working together to keep the plane under control.