GOLDMAN, Mo. -- It took only nine seconds for the plane carrying Gov. Mel Carnahan to a campaign rally to plummet about 3,200 feet before disappearing from radar, investigators said.
The crash came only minutes after the governor's son, who was piloting the twin-engine Cessna 335, sought permission from air traffic controllers to change direction. Roger Carnahan said he was having trouble with the artificial horizon, used to maintain level flight.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators have found a football-sized piece of the plane's engine more than a quarter-mile away from where the plane crashed Monday night near St. Louis.
In addition to the 66-year-old governor and his 44-year-old son, also killed was Chris Sifford, 37, the governor's chief aide in his bid for the Senate.
NTSB member Carol Carmody on Wednesday provided details of communications between Roger Carnahan and the control tower at Lambert Airport in St. Louis. Full transcripts were not released.
The plane took off just before 7 p.m. from Parks Airport in Cahokia, Ill., near St. Louis. It was heading south, where the governor was to appear at a fund-raiser in New Madrid, Mo., for his bid for the U.S. Senate.
At 7:20 p.m., Roger Carnahan said he was having trouble with the artificial horizon. Two minutes later, he sought permission to turn to the west toward an airport in Jefferson City.
At 7:28 p.m., the pilot told controllers he was still having trouble and was trying to switch to visual flight rules, which means he was trying to find a path clear enough to fly by sight.
Air traffic control told him "to just keep heading west" to avoid fog and rain. Carnahan said he was heading west; the tower lost radar contact with the plane at 7:33 p.m.
Weather data showed shear winds at about 7,000 feet near the time of the crash, Carmody said. "This would be of interest to someone flying an airplane," she said. "I would think it might result in some turbulence."
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