2 Killed in Barr Air Patrol Crash

Jan. 6 -- The tables were tragically turned Friday for a Mesquite aviation company whose services include search and rescue.

A single-engine airplane from Barr Air Patrol in Mesquite, which went missing Thursday after heading south about 9 a.m. from Joliet, Ill., was found crashed Friday afternoon in north central Arkansas.

The two occupants, whose names were not released, were killed.

Tony Vann, a spokesman for the city of Mesquite, which owns the airport where Barr Air Patrol is headquartered, said late Friday that company officials had no comment except that their thoughts and prayers were with the victims' families.

Holly Baker, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, confirmed that two bodies were found with the wreckage of the Cessna 182R about a mile east of Batesville, the seat of Independence County.

Mike McDuffie, president of Barr Air Patrol, said the plane had been on a pipeline inspection mission when contact was lost. The craft was not heard from after 11:40 a.m. Thursday, when it was near Doniphan, Mo.

The crash site was near the Batesville airport, where the pilot may have intended to make a stop during the flight back to Mesquite. There were no reports of any problem aboard the aircraft.

Fog and rain had stalled search operations Thursday afternoon.

A captain with the Independence County Sheriff's Department said the victims' identities probably would be released today. .

Ms. Baker said officials from the FAA office in Little Rock and from the National Transportation Safety Board in Fort Worth were en route to the crash scene.

"The investigators will look at all aspects, including weather, trying to determine the cause of the accident," Ms. Baker said.

According to its Web site, Barr Air Patrol has been in business since 1940 as "a nationwide aerial surveillance and transportation provider for the oil, gas and petrochemical industries." It also provides services including search and rescue, the Web site says.

John Frank, executive director of the 14,000-member Cessna Pilots Association in Santa Maria, Calif., checked the history of the plane based on its tail number and said it was built in 1985.

According to Mr. Frank, the lost 182R was a four-passenger aircraft powered by a single 230-horsepower engine. Depending on the weight it was carrying, it would cruise at about 150 mph with a maximum range of 900 to 1,000 miles.

Cessna has been making 172s, its entry-level model, and 182s, its mid-range version, since 1956. Mr. Frank said many 182s built in 1956 are still flying.

"There are no age issues with Cessnas of this vintage," he said.

The plane's ability to fly safely in reduced visibility or rainy weather would depend on the equipment installed by its owner, Mr. Frank said.

"This airplane was not certified for flying in known icy conditions, for example, which is true of most general aviation aircraft," he said.

Doug Oliver, a spokesman for Cessna Aircraft Co., said 182s have an excellent safety record.

"We celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 172 and the 182 last year," Mr. Oliver said. "Tens of thousands of the planes have been built, and they're used around the world.

Copyright (c) 2007, The Dallas Morning News.

News stories provided by third parties are not edited by "Site Publication" staff. For suggestions and comments, please click the Contact link at the bottom of this page.