Plane Crash Victims Identified
Initial reports from law enforcement at the southeast Missouri crash site indicated four victims, but Schroeder said those numbers were inaccurate.
The plane took off from Jefferson City Memorial Airport at 7:54 am Saturday for what was scheduled to be a four-hour flight to Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Kansas City Air Traffic Control lost radar contact with the plane less than an hour later at about 8:45 am. Schroeder said it appears the family had ultimately been heading to Florida and planned to refuel in Alabama.
The blue and white single-engine 1966 Piper Cherokee went down in a heavily wooded area of southeast Missouri just northeast of Viburnum in the Mark Twain National Forest. Based on initial reports, Randy Wheeler told controllers he had zero visibility and a strong headwind shortly before the crash.
Missouri Highway Patrol were unable to find the plane in the hilly terrain when they first responded to the crash. A search helicopter eventually spotted its location late Saturday afternoon. Highway Patrol officials say a witness reported seeing parts of the plane falling from the sky in Iron County.
Schroeder said the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board planned to be at the crash site Sunday afternoon.