Hageland official believed dead in Arkansas plane crash

Posted: Wednesday, December 11, 2002

EAGLETON, Ark. (AP) -- The president of Anchorage-based Hageland Aviation Services was a passenger aboard a twin-engine plane that crashed in mountainous terrain in western Arkansas, company officials said Tuesday.

Ron Tweto was one of three aboard a Beechcraft 1900C when the plane became missing during a flight Monday. The wreckage was located Tuesday, company officials said. Tweto and the two pilots on board were believed to have perished in the crash, according to Hugh Youngers, Hageland's director of operations.

''It's shocking to all of us,'' Youngers said. ''We're holding together best we can.''

Tweto, 40, leaves a wife and three children.

Authorities had not released the names of the pilots, who were on contract with Wichita-based Raytheon Aircraft Co., which builds the planes

Tweto was in the Lower 48 for a pre-purchase flight of the twin-engine aircraft. Airborne searchers spotted the wreckage of a twin-engine airplane on Tuesday but rescue crews were unable to reach the site by ground because of low visibility.

Polk County Sheriff Mike Oglesby said the search will resume Wednesday morning.

The Federal Aviation Administration didn't know the status of the three people aboard the Beechcraft, which was traveling Monday from Wichita, Kan., to Mena, Ark., when it disappeared from radar. Youngers said authorities told him the position of the wreckage indicated the plane hit the side of a mountain, then burned.

FAA spokesman Roland Herwig said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board would begin an investigation.

Oglesby said officials were contacted by the Mena Airport on Monday night when the airport lost track of the plane on radar. No flight plan was filed.

Rain and fog had prevented an aerial search Monday.

The craft belonged to Raytheon Aircraft Credit Corp., said Raytheon spokesman Tim Travis.

The 19-seat commuter plane was built in 1990 and had undergone a routine maintenance and complete overhaul, Travis said. The occupants were planning to pick up the craft's maintenance records in Mena.

''They would not have flown the plane if it was not air worthy,'' Travis said.

Travis said company investigators will work with the NTSB to help determine a cause of the crash. The plane's cockpit voice recorder also will be reviewed.

Tweto, who was part owner of Hageland, joined the company as a pilot in 1989. He then managed a Hageland station in St. Marys in Western Alaska, where he continued to live with his family after being named president in 1995.

Under Tweto's leadership, the company expanded its service in Western Alaska, Youngers said.

''He will be greatly missed,'' he said. ''Our condolences go out to his family and to the families of the pilots.''

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On the Net: http://www.raytheonaircraft.com/products/airliner/



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