North Carolina Plane Crash Kills all 21 on Board

Over a year of safe skies for passenger and cargo planes ended tragically Wednesday at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, when a commuter plane carrying 19 passengers and two crewmembers slammed into an airport hangar when taking off just before 9 a.m. The fiery crash killed everyone on board.

A National Transportation Safety Board Go-Team led by Investigator-In-Charge Lorenda Ward left Reagan National Airport just after noon. At this time, the cause of the crash is unknown.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Greg Martin said the pilot radioed the tower and indicated he had an emergency situation. The transmission was cut off before the pilot had a chance to tell the tower what it was, said Martin.

According to the NTSB, the aircraft, A Beech 1900 D (N233YV) aircraft, hit the corner of the hanger at full throttle upon take off at approximately 8:50 a.m. EST

One witness reported he thought the plane was climbing at too steep of an angle. While he watched, the plane swerved in the air and dived to the ground.

Airport Director Jerry Orr confirmed the plane veered sharply back toward the airport during takeoff.

Keith Bridges, a Charlotte police spokesman, said there was not much left of the plane following the crash and fire. "It's just a horrible sight," he said.

The plane, operated by Air Midwest, was on its way to Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C. According to the company, the plane was about 8 years old and had 15,000 hours of flight time and 21,000 takeoffs and landings.

"We clearly are deeply concerned about this event, about our crews and our passengers," said Jonathan Ornstein, CEO of Mesa Airlines, which owns Air Midwest. "I can only express our greatest sympathy, my personal sympathy, to all those involved."

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