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Small plane crashes into house in Conway

By The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

This article was originally published June 30, 2007 at 4:33 p.m. Updated July 1, 2007 at 12:22 a.m.

A small plane crashed into a house on approach to the Conway Municipal Airport, Dennis Cantrell Field, about mid-afteroon Saturday.

Preliminary but unconfirmed reports indicated that a woman inside the house and the pilot of the plane were killed in the crash, which happened around 3 p.m.

Authorities said a passenger in the plane walked out of the wreckage and was sent to Conway Regional Hospital. The woman's husband also was injured and driven to the hospital, according to reports.

"We'll secure the scene through the night until the (National Transportation Safety Board) arrives," Conway Police Chief Allen Gary said.

The crash happened at Ingram and Bruce Streets near the airport, Conway Fire Chief Bart Castleberry said.

It took about two hours to put out the fire that started after the crash, authorities said.

Chris Lewis of the Conway Police Department said the two people killed in Saturday's crash were Hugh Raines, 71, of Wichita Falls, Texas, and Janet Brady, 71, of Conway.

Moore said a passenger in the plane and another person at the house survived the crash.

Roland Herwig of the Federal Aviation Administration office at Oklahoma City said preliminary information indicated the pilot "landed long" on a wet runway, then tried to reapply power and take off again.

"At that time, it hit a house," Herwig said.

Bill Meeks of Maumelle, who works for a trucking firm near the crash site, said he looked up just before the crash.

"It looked like once he knew he wasn't going to stop, he hit full thrust (in an attempt to take flight again) but his wheels never left the ground," Meeks told the Log Cabin Democrat of Conway.

Meeks added that the plane appeared to be in flames before hitting the house.

Authorities would not say where the plane had originated.

The Federal Aviation Administration has closed the Conway airport. It is expected to reopen Sunday.

A similar accident happened in 1990, when a twin-engine airplane crashed into a fence and a house as it tried to land at the Conway airport.

The pilot who died in the 1990 crash, Kerry L. Gooch, was an employee of Beech Holdings Inc., a Beech Aircraft Corp. subsidiary. Authorities said it was raining as the plane attempted to land, and the Beech Baron 58 hit a chain-link fence at the west end of the airport and crashed into a home on Bruce Street.

Conway officials have debated for decades whether to move the airport from its Sixth Street site - which is across the interstate from a major shopping center and not far from downtown. The airport's 4,875-foot runway has little room for expansion because of development surrounding it.

Follow this developing story at ArkansasOnline and read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

Thank you for coming to the Web site of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. We're working to keep you informed with the latest breaking news.

Information for this article was contributed by Jill Zemen of The Associated Press.

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