A Year Later, Question Remains: Why Did Two Grande Aire Planes
Crash Hours Apart?
Steve and Judy Forshay have been grieving the loss of their son
for almost a year now. They're not satisfied with what little they
know about his death even now and are becoming advocates for change
in the air cargo industry.
"It is still a difficult thing to accept," Steve Forshay
(pictured above, center, with wife Judy, left) said in an interview
with the Toledo Blade.
"You're devastated. Absolutely devastated," said Judy, obviously
fighting back the tears that still spring to her eyes a year
It happened on April 8, 2003. Steven "Will" Forshay, 37, was one
of three crew members aboard a Grande Aire Dassault DA-20 (file
photo of type in military configuration, below) on approach to
Toledo Express Airport (OH). The weather was cold and misty. Along
with chief pilot, Wallis Bouldin, 32, and the flight's first
officer, David Davenport, 40, they flew from Toledo to Grand Rapids
(MI) to pick up cargo, and then to drop it off in Traverse City.
The younger Forshay was still working on his DA-20 type
certification. He was taking instruction from the other two crew
members on the way home.
Forshay and Bouldin were at the controls when they made their
initial approach to Toledo Express. They missed that approach --
perhaps intentionally (as part of Forshay's training) -- and
maneuvered through the airspace for a second attempt. That's when
things apparently went horribly wrong.
At approximately 1:45, Approach cleared the Falcon to contact
the tower at Toledo Blade. Bouldin acknowledged the instruction,
but never showed up on the tower frequency. Two minutes and 40
seconds later, the Falcon disappeared from radar.
Witnesses say the aircraft was unusually low as it approached
the airport. Some said they heard popping sounds that might be
indicative of a flame-out. Still others said outright that one of
the aircraft's engines seemed to quit on approach.
The burning wreckage of the Grande Aire DA-20 was found about a
mile and a half short of the approach end of the runway. All on
board lost their lives.
The same day, another Grande Aire flight -- this one in St.
Louis -- went down in what federal officials called a tragic case
of fuel mismanagement. Two pilots were injured in that mishap.
Now, Grande Aire has changed its name to Tri-Coastal. It's still
locked in a massive financial struggle and executives refuse to
discuss the company's future. It's selling its hangar at Toledo
Express, where it owes more than $100,000 in airport fees. The
Toledo Blade reports company owner Tahir Cheema, appears ready to
move to Alabama where he apparently plans to start a new
Will Forshay's parents now attend air cargo safety events and
plan to become big-time advocates for increased air safety.
"This is what Will would do for us," his mother said. "He would
not drop the ball. He wouldn't be content. He would make it