Archive for Friday, April 22, 2011

4 killed in Jefferson County plane crash

Kansas Highway Patrol officers and Jefferson County sheriff personnel were at the scene of a plane crash in Jefferson County around 12:30 p.m. Friday, April 22, 2011. Four people were killed in the crash.

April 22, 2011, 1:17 p.m. Updated April 23, 2011, 7:29 a.m.


K-4 northeast of Topeka

A twin-engine plane crashed Friday afternoon and killed a Scott City couple and their two daughters in a semi-rural area of Jefferson County, about three miles northeast of Topeka.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, all four people on board were killed in the accident, which was near the intersection of Kansas Highway 4 and 46th Street, southwest of Meriden.

FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said the Beechcraft Baron 58, tail number N580EA, crashed in a field. Flight logs show the six-seat plane took off from the Scott City Municipal Airport at 10:45 a.m. and lost altitude at 12:14 p.m. The plane was bound for Philip Billard Municipal Airport in Topeka and is registered to Precision Ag and Seed Services out of Scott City.

Kansas Highway Patrol identified the four crash victims as Richard D. Spencer, 35; Amy Spencer, 34; Chase Spencer, 7; and Ansley Spencer, 5. Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig said investigators believed the family was headed to the Topeka area to visit friends for Easter weekend.

Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the pilot, Richard Spencer, was practicing an approach in IFR conditions and practiced a missed approach — a common training practice for pilots when they almost land but pull up at the last second. IFR — instrument flight rules — conditions mean the pilot is using instruments to fly the plane and visibility is not good.

Knudson said the plane was circling the airport after the missed approach when it crashed, and he said there was no distress call made.

Sue Pater, who lives near the crash site, said she was watching TV in her living room when the plane crashed, about a half mile from her backyard.

“I heard a big boom and something flashed across my TV screen,” Pater said. “My brother-in-law called me and said he saw a ball of fire fall from the sky.”

Pater said smoke was visible from her house for about 30 minutes after the crash.

A representative from the NTSB was to arrive on the scene Friday evening to begin investigating the crash. The FAA also planned to send an investigation team.

Herrig said the crews were expected to arrive from Chicago between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. He said he believed diminishing sunlight would hinder much investigation Friday night but said crews would likely be out first thing today to continue. The Kansas Highway Patrol and Jefferson and Shawnee county sheriff’s departments were also on the scene.

Friday's crash was the second plane crash in Jefferson County in the past year. In July 2010, a New York couple died when their small plane crashed in a field in Jefferson County, about 10 miles northwest of Lawrence.


Shane Garrett 6 years ago

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epa422 6 years ago

Breaking News is not the way to find out someone you knew has died. What a terrible afternoon this has been for me since I saw the second update. My heart goes out to my hometown and the family. This will take a tremendous toll on the community of Scott City.

epa422 6 years ago

I'm terribly sorry. No, I didn't mean for it to sound that way. They did an excellent job covering the story; better than many other sources. I just wish that I hadn't clicked on this particular breaking news link. I would have rather learned the information later when I could have known who was affected, instead of pondering who might have been involved. However, I am extremely grateful that the information wasn't available here. I just wish I hadn't clicked on the story. And that is not LJWorld's fault.

jhawkrx10 6 years ago

I spent a month in Scott City a little over a year ago as part of an experiential rotation for school. Although I do not personally know the parties involved, I know how tight knit the community of Scott City was and cannot begin to imagine the impact this news has had on them. My thoughts and prayers go out to those involved, their loved ones and the entire community of Scott City.

1983Hawk 6 years ago

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jackpot 6 years ago

From the Garden City paper all 4 were family members per Jeff County Sheriff. This will be a great loss for all the family and Scott City area. My heart goes out to them.

Lawrence_Pilot 6 years ago

Sad to read. My heart goes out to the next of kin and friends. I often land in Scott City. I wonder if I ever met the pilot.

“said the pilot was practicing an approach in IFR conditions and practiced a missed approach — a common training practice for pilots when they almost land but pull up at the last second.”

No, that is a “go-around” or “aborted landing.” A “missed approach” happens in the clouds: if the clouds are so low that the pilot can’t see the ground by the time he arrives at the airport, the pilot breaks off the approach, climbs and leaves to try a different approach or airport. Yes, we practice those, under a view-limiting device while another pilot looks outside.

The weather at Billard at the time was 1900 ovc. and 5 mi. visibility. Certainly high enough where a missed approach wouldn’t be necessary unless you WERE practicing.

If you want to look at their flight track on an aviation chart, see That shows an ending track on the east side of Perry, not the west side, as the article describes.

Either way, they were a long way from the airport by the time they crashed. That is puzzling. A typical accident from a missed approach would happen nearer the airport. I’d venture to guess (GUESS, mind you, as in armchair analysis), that they were practicing something else that far out. Like single-engine work. We’ll know in a year when they release the report.

jackpot 6 years ago

Is this a + or - type of map or pin point? The crash site is west of Perry lake but the link map shows no return from east side Perry Lake. Can you please clear this up for me? Thanks

AnotherPilot 6 years ago

Looks like they flew the ILS 31 at TOP from the flight flight track. If you turn on the aviation sectional, you will see the track goes to the the Topeka VOR. The approach plate shows the normal missed to the west. The VOR is the missed approach point for other approaches, but it's also used to vector folks out for additional air work or practice.

gphawk89 6 years ago

I'm not sure about the whole paragraph about "practicing". Maybe. If I were in IFR conditions, I'd want to get the plane on the ground ASAP, especially if my family was with me. The Topeka paper certainly didn't word it that way. It's a sad day for Scott City. I've not been there in decades but if it's like any other small KS ag town, everyone probably knew (or at least knew of) the victims.

KEITHMILES05 6 years ago

Too much conjecture on this stupid "practicing" crap. STOP. IT. NOW.

KEITHMILES05 6 years ago

It seemed to me there was conjecture about "practicing" or whatever. That is what I thought was inappropriate but I will admit I am not familiar with such maneveurs, I apologize if I am in error about that.

Deja Coffin 6 years ago

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the victims. I am so very sorry for your loss. This is just heartbreaking. Too many young lives have been lost lately. Another small community is going to need a lot of prayers in the days ahead.

jhawkinsf 6 years ago

Very sad. Condolences to family and friends.

muttonchops 6 years ago

It makes me curious when I read: “My brother-in-law called me and said he saw a ball of fire fall from the sky.”

Not that eye-witness testimony is even remotely accurate most of the time, but if he saw a ball of fire fall from the sky, it leads me to believe the plane was on fire before it crashed.

number1jayhawker 6 years ago

May GOD be kind and have mercy on their souls.

hk45 6 years ago

They were strong members of the community and a great family, they will be missed. The community has suffered many tragedys since the beginning of the year, hopefully, this is the end.

epa422 6 years ago

It's in far west Kansas. 35 miles north of Garden City; 60 miles east of Colorado.

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