Plane With 19 Aboard Crashes in PA

Sunday, May 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) — A charter plane carrying 19 people on a flight from Atlantic City, N.J., crashed Sunday as it attempted to land in light rain at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.

A fire and wreckage were spotted in a heavily wooded area about 9 miles south of the airport in northeastern Pennsylvania. There were no signs of survivors, said Joe Thomas, manager of the Luzerne County 911 system.

``The weather was bad, it was windy and there was some precipitation. The visibility was poor,'' said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Tammy Jones.

Jones said it appeared that both of the plane's engines had failed. She said investigators found a ball of fire at the scene.

Emergency crews began searching along the planned flight path of the plane as soon as they were notified shortly after 11:30 a.m. that it would not reach the airport, said Luzerne County 911 spokesman Ron Rome. The wreckage was spotted about an hour later.

``My understanding, from talking to people at the scene, is there are no survivors,'' Rome said.

Seventeen passengers and two crew members were aboard, Jones said.

The twin-engine turbo prop was attempting to land when it apparently developed some kind of mechanical problem, said Wy Gowell, assistant director at the airport.

``There was an indication there was a mechanical problem, that's all we can say,'' Gowell said.

Peter Hartt, spokesman for the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates the Atlantic City Airport, said the plane was operated by Executive Airlines. He said it left the city about 10:30 a.m. and was scheduled to land in Wilkes-Barre an hour later.

Hartt said the airline typically runs casino charters, but he did not know who was aboard.

The 1988 BA-31 Jetstream disappeared from radar about 11:40 a.m. during a second instrument approach, typically performed if the visibility is poor or if there is a low cloud deck.

Megan Maguire was outside gardening at her home near the airport on the northern rim of the Pocono Mountains shortly before noon Sunday when she heard a plane apparently having problems.

``I heard the engines die, then I heard them start up again, and then they just died. I heard it rev up twice, so it died twice,'' she said.