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Faith healer, pilot headed for Texas die in plane explosion

Only victims who survive a private plane crash can tell investigators what happened during a flight. Unlike auto collisions on crowded Texas roads, many aviation accidents have few or no first-hand witnesses. Government agencies and victims’ families must search for answers in wreckage.

A fatal plane crash leaves traces of evidence, but the devastation can be so complete that important clues are lost. Aircraft accident investigations do not begin and end at a crash site. The trail of clues starts with an examination of the plane’s history well before the last flight. Human and mechanical flaws are possible, starting with the plane’s design.

Federal and other officials are trying to figure out why a 38-year-old Cessna 500 en route to Texas fell from the sky shortly after take-off. The 49-year-old pilot never reported anything wrong, before the aircraft “exploded” more than 16,000 feet in the air.

The disaster occurred just 20 miles from a Kansas airport. Parts of the aircraft were found up to a mile from the farm field where the plane went down. A local sheriff said none of the aircraft was intact.

Two men died in the accident – a 72-year-old traveling minister and the pilot, both from the same West Coast city. The flying faith healer boasted on a church website that he had flown 11 million miles in the course of his work. The crash occurred as the preacher was traveling between religious engagements.

Federal aviation law regulators and investigators are expected to spend weeks pulling evidence together to determine the cause of the crash. The establishment of fault helps direct legal actions in the wake of accident injuries and deaths.

Unsafe practices by designers, manufacturers, servicers, air traffic controllers, aircraft owners and pilots translate to negligence in civil courts. The result is often an out-of-court settlement or financial relief for plane crash victims or surviving family members.

Source:, “Victims identified in Kansas plane crash” No author given, Oct. 18, 2013

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