Airport Accident Claims Manager's Life

Aug. 14, 2009

POTEAU, Okla. --

Henry said Ellis Whigham was taxiing an ultralight plane from one hanger to another, at the Poteau airport, when he veered off course and hit a dual-prop plane.

The impact pushed the ultralight's propeller into Whigham.

"We had no eyewitnesses," said Henry. "There was a gentleman that showed up later shortly after it happened and discovered the scene."

Henry said the ultralight accident is shocking given Whigham's years of experience.

"He was going to do some work on it and for some unknown reason, maybe a medical reason he veered off the taxiway and struck a second plane," Henry said.

Jack Jeffrey said he knew Whigham for the past two years.

"Everyone knew him," Jeffrey said. "He was everyone's friend. It's really crushing to know something like this can happen."

Jeffrey said he's currently taking flight lessons at the airport and Whigham always had time to lend a helping hand.

"Something would be wrong with my plane and he would come there and help me with it or give me advice," said Jeffrey.

Jeffrey said Whigham was known simply as "Red" at the airport.

Jack Younger, an assistant manager at the Poteau airport, said Whigham had been the airport's manager for the last 8 years, was a mechanic and held a private pilot's license.

"He's just a good guy (and would) help you out," Younger said. "I've known him 20 plus years (and) we've worked together off and on 10 of those years."

Both Jeffrey and Younger said coming to the airport and not seeing their friend will be a difficult reality to accept.

"He made it a home for everyone," Jeffrey said.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said the Federal Aviation Administration has been notified of the accident, but it's unclear if they will be sending an investigator to the scene since the accident happened on the grounds of the airport and wasn't the result of an airborne flight.

Man Killed In Poteau Plane Accident

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