But They Forgot To Take The Drugs They Were Smuggling
It might have been cocaine, it might
have been some other drug. But a crash investigation near the
Wheeling-Ohio County Airport in West Virginia has become a criminal
investigation. State police say large amounts of illegal drugs were
found on the aircraft.
It began at around 1500 local Sunday afternoon, when a navaid at
the departure end of the runway was damaged. Airport workers went
to find out why. More than 90-minutes later, the Civil Air Patrol
picked up an ELT transmission from near the end of the runway. CAP
members were searching for the source of the transmission some
three miles east of the airport near the town of West Derby,
according to the Wheeling paper.
The Smith PA-60 Aerostar was apparently taking off at around
1500 local Sunday afternoon when it ran off the departure end of
the runway and came to rest at the bottom of a hill in some
"The aircraft sustained substantial damage," Airport Manger
Thomas Tominack told the Wheeling News-Register. There was "no fire
involved," he said. Part of a wing had been torn off, but the
fuselage remained "pretty much intact."
But airport officials and law officers became suspicious when
they found no one at the scene of the accident, even though it
appeared the pilot had been hurt.
Tominack said no one at the airport knew very much about the
aircraft, the pilot or the Sunday afternoon flight. The reason?
"[N]umerous unorthodox flight procedures" the aircraft was
exhibiting, he told the paper. He said there was no flight plan
filed, leaving a big blank on questions of where the flight
originated and where it was going.
The aircraft was registered to James May of Auburn, AL. Two
other owners were in the FAA's registry database -- Richard D.
Starr And James L. Starr LLC.
Both James Lewis Starr and Richard David Star are also listed as
residents of Auburn, AL. Records at the Alabama Secretary of
State's web site show they own a construction company.
FAA Preliminary Accident Report
Regis#: 60CF Make/Model: AEST
Description: PA-60 AEROSTAR
Date: 12/19/2004 Time: 1500
Event Type: Accident Highest Injury:
None Mid Air: N Missing: N
State: WV Country: US
ACFT WENT OFF THE DEPARTURE END OF THE RUNWAY AND WENT DOWN
THE BOTTOM OF
THE HILL, WHEELING OHIO COUNTY AIRPORT, WHEELING, WV
INJURY DATA Total Fatal: 0
0 Fat: 0 Ser: 0
Min: 0 Unk: Y
0 Fat: 0 Ser:
0 Min: 0 Unk: Y
Grnd: Fat: 0
Ser: 0 Min: 0 Unk:
Activity: Unknown Phase: Unknown
Operation: General Aviation
Dep Date: Dep. Time:
Flt Plan: Wx Briefing:
Last Radio Cont:
FAA FSDO: ALLEGHENY CO., PA
(EA03) Entry date: