Cessna 421B May Have Stalled in 2006 Crash, NTSB Says

April 4, 2007
The NTSB's report did not determine the cause of the crash. The federal agency is expected to reach a final conclusion this spring.

Apr. 3 -- Both engines probably were working on a small plane when it crashed early last year as it approached a Wheeling airport, killing four people, according to a federal report.

The plane, a Cessna 421B piloted by Mark Turek, apparently plummeted into a construction storage lot after a dangerous drop in speed, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report. Other pilots reported ice forming on the wings of their planes around the time of the crash.

Turek, 59, of Winnetka and Kenneth Knudson, 61, of Lake Villa, the plane's owner, were killed on Jan. 30, 2006, when the Cessna went down less than a mile from Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling. At the time it was called Palwaukee Airport.

Also killed were passengers Scott Garland, 40, of Chicago and Michael Waugh, 37, of Algonquin.

Several previously unconfirmed details regarding the crash were made public in the report, including who was flying the plane, the drop in speed and an analysis that indicated both propellers were working at impact.

NTSB officials weren't available for comment Monday.

An examination of sound recordings of radio traffic between the pilot and air traffic controllers showed that both propellers were functioning, the report said.

An earlier recording picked up the sound of only one engine.

"Both propellers exhibited damage consistent with impact and no indications of a pre-impact failure were found," according to the report.

Families of the victims have filed wrongful-death lawsuits. Some of the suits have raised the possibility that one of the Cessna's engines failed or that the pilot was at fault.

The NTSB's report did not determine the cause of the crash.

The federal agency is expected to reach a final conclusion this spring.

An attorney for one of the families said Monday that the NTSB's findings parallel what his investigations have found.

"It appears, unfortunately, that the pilot stalled this aircraft," said Gary Robb of Kansas City, Mo. Robb is representing Waugh's widow, Lisa, and their three sons.

The crash ended a one-day business trip to the Kansas City area.

Turek appears to have followed common practice when he approached the airport from the north before circling to try landing at the south end of the main runway.

A witness said the plane appeared to be headed for a smooth landing when it suddenly began to spiral downward.

In the last three minutes that radar tracked the plane, its airspeed decreased quickly -- possibly dangerously, according to the report.

Radar records showed that as it approached the airport, the plane went from about 190 m.p.h. around 6:26 p.m. to about 126 m.p.h. around 6:28 and then dropped to about 94 m.p.h. just after 6:29 p.m., the report found.

A Cessna 421 can stall around 98 m.p.h., depending on whether its landing gear is down and other factors, according to the report.

"Unfortunately, that is too slow in that airplane," Robb said of the Cessna's speed just before the crash. "His heading was good. Everything else looked good."

The report confirms that several pilots at Palwaukee reported icing on their aircraft in the hours before the crash. One reported that his aircraft experienced icing 15 minutes earlier.

Turek, a senior financial adviser for the investment firm Morgan Stanley, had all the necessary training to fly the twin-engine plane, the report found.

Knudson, the founder of Sybaris Clubs International, also was a licensed pilot.

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