FAA Investigating Crash

Posted: March 11, 2013 at 3:32 p.m.

— An investigator from the Federal Aviation Administration was in Rogers on Monday to determine what caused a Sunday night single-engine airplane to crash, according to airport officials.

None of the four people aboard were injured, authorities said.

Police and firefighters were called to the Rogers Municipal Airport-Carter Field at 7:54 p.m.

Pilot Rodney Graham, 53, of Fyffe, Ala., told police at approximately 2,800 feet, he felt a lift under the plane , then felt the plane sink back down.

As he was preparing to land, he was trying to hold the plane steady at 500 feet facing south, according to a police report. Graham reported at approximately 100 feet above the ground, the nose was up and the landing gear down. He said he felt an “external atmospheric force” that pushed the plane straight down to the ground. Graham said he believed he hit a micro-burst, according to the report.

Atmospheric conditions at the time were 32 degrees, rainy and 15 mph wind from the west, according to the police report.

A microburst is a downdraft (sinking air) in a thunderstorm that is less than 2.5 miles in scale, according to the National Weather Service website. Some microbursts can pose a threat to life and property, but all microbursts pose a significant threat to aviation. Although microbursts are not as widely recognized as tornadoes, they can cause comparable, and in some cases, worse damage than some tornadoes produce. Wind speeds as high as 150 mph are possible in extreme microburst cases.

Police identifited the other occupants as Michael Tripp, 51, of Pisgah, Ala., Robert Yoe, 62, of Chattanooga, Tenn., and Heather Lingerfelt, 38, of Athens, Tenn.

The FAA website identified the airplane as a Piper PA24 with the tale number N71DH. Flightware.com shows that plane to be owned by Robert H. Yoe of Chattanooga. The single-engine craft could seat six.

The police report said the craft sustained heavy damage to both wings and the landing gear.

Airport Manager David Krutsch said Monday the airport’s runway was closed from 8 p.m. Sunday until 2:30 a.m. Monday while debris was removed.

Fire Chief Tom Jenkins said firefighters used foam to contain an unknown amount of fuel that leaked from the plane. About 40 gallons were in the fuel tank, he said.