New Details in Deadly AFC Plane Crash

LITTLE ROCK, AR - There are new details today on the crash of an Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC) plane late last month that claimed the life of pilot Jake Harrell.

According to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Harrell was not scheduled to fly the plane on Jan. 31 but stepped in when the other pilot cancelled due to illness.

With Harrell at the controls, the Cessna 210E (see photo of another plane of this model) fixed wing single-engine plane took off from the Malvern Municipal Airport at 12:40.

The report states the following flight information:
  • 12:53 - plane enters eastern boundary of the forest district
  • 12:58 - pilot reported at Mt. Ida checkpoint and turned north 
  •   1:03 - pilot reported to the dispatch center that he was 20 nm* from checkpoint 1 (Danville) and turning back due to low ceilings. 
  •   1:11 - pilot reported he was 3 nm west of Oden which is about 16 nm southwest of his last reported position (there were no further radio transmissions from the pilot).
The report states that Harrell's plane crashed near Glenwood at 1:17 p.m., striking trees on a ridgeline at 1,473 feet. The plane's left wing was found on top of the ridgeline while the main wreckage was 0.3 miles south of the ridgeline at an elevation of 686 feet.

The accident site was located about 13 nm from his last reported position near Oden. 
When the pilot did not check in with the dispatch center after 30 minutes from his last communication, the dispatch center tried to contact him. 

At 2:31, the Federal Aviation Administration's Flight Service Station and the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center were told about the overdue airplane. Ground and aerial searches were made for the missing airplane, but weather conditions over the next 11 days hampered the search effort. 

The airplane wreckage was located on the afternoon of Feb. 11. Harrell's body was escorted from the scene with a full honor guard.

Click here to read the entire preliminary report.

*nautical miles

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