December 23, 2002
Posted at: 2:55 p.m. CDT
Updated at: 4:25 p.m. CDT
EGYPT, AR -- One man is dead following the crash of a private plane in the western Craighead County town of Egypt Tuesday morning.
Thirty-seven-year-old Eddie Wayne Thomas Jr. of Cherokee Village died when his Beechcraft Baron aircraft crashed at approximately 9:45 a.m. There was no one else aboard the six-passenger aircraft.
Thomas leaves behind a wife and three children.
A flight plan filed with the Federal Aviation Administration showing the plane travelling from Cherokee Village to Jonesboro. Sources at the Jonesboro Municipal Airport tell KAIT that the aircraft was scheduled to undergo routine maintenance at Sharp Aviation, Inc.
Thomas crashed while attempting to divert to Walnut Ridge due to poor weather on the way to Jonesboro, according to the Arkansas State Police.
Arkansas State Police trooper Tony Austin says that Thomas was thrown about three feet from the plane upon impact and was severely burned. He said the body will be sent to the state Crime Lab for autopsy.
The trooper says it appears the plane's left wing was down and hit some pine trees. Then, the plane turned nose first into the ground. Austin says the plan exploded on impact.
"We got a call (this morning) of a plane down here in Egypt.," Austin said. "On arrival we found a small passenger plane on County Road 181."
The plane crashed between two homes about 10 a.m. about two miles southwest of Egypt. Parts were scattered about 300 feet. No one on the ground was injured.
"You could here the plane cutting out and then all of a sudden there was just a crash," eyewitness Carol Cook said. "I mean it rattled our house and we ran outside and I told (someone) to get on the phone and call 911.
"It was just a big ball of blaze, it was awful just awful," Cook added.
The aircraft is owned Thomas Aviation, Incorporated of Hardy, and was built in 1972. The twin-engined craft had a maximum weight of 12,500 lbs., and an average cruising speed of 165 mph.
Investigators on the scene speculate that ice may have played a part in the crash. However, investigators from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board have yet to launch a formal investigation.