Close friends and family reflect on Fulton plane crash

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FULTON - A plane crash had family and friends of the pilot and passengers questioning the safety of a runway at a Fulton airport Tuesday. 

The Monday night plane crash at the Fulton Elton Hensley Memorial Airport left three men recovering at University Hospital in Columbia with back injuries. Investigators are looking into engine failure as the cause.

The crash became a federal investigation after it switched hands from the Fulton Police Department into the hands of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

The pilot of the twin-engine Cessna plane was 63-year-old Ted Douglas Berg. The two passengers were 72-year-old Michael W. Ford and 43-year-old Richard Williams.

A close family friend to Ford, Bryan Hinson, drove up from Arkansas with Ford's daughter who wishes to remain unnamed. Hinson said Ford and Berg are experienced fliers. 

"He's flown for many years, over 30 years in air shows, helicopter, and same with Ted," Hinson said. 

A friend of Berg said he had thousands of hours of experience operating aircrafts. 

Hinson and several others told KOMU 8 News they question the runway and its safety. 

"It was a hard impact," Hinson said. "It was a very hard impact once they hit the ditch. That was Mike's last words before he went in,  when he said I love all you guys that if it wouldn't have been for that ditch we would've all walked away."

One pilot told KOMU 8 News a longer and flatter runway would have allowed the pilot more time to shut down the plane's other engine before crashing.

As of early Tuesday evening, Hinson said Ford's condition was stable but critical. Ford underwent surgery Tuesday. 

Hinson said the three men are blessed to still be here.

"Just hug everybody, you know, when you leave them in the morning give them a hug and a kiss and tell them goodbye because you never know when you're going to get a phone call," Hinson said.