Mail plane crashes into TV tower
Pilot killed when plane crashes into television tower
BROADWAY, N.C. (AP) -- A pilot was killed when his small courier plane struck a 1,800-foot television transmission tower Thursday, toppling the structure and scattering debris.
David Dollar, 27, was flying from Greenville to Concord for Raleigh-based RAM Air Freight when his Piper single-engine plane hit the top of the tower about 4:30 p.m., Harnett County Sheriff Larry Knott said.
The air-mail carrier had been hired by Wachovia Corp. to transport checks and other paperwork to a processing facility in central North Carolina, said Wachovia spokeswoman Mary Eshet.
The wreckage covered a 700-yard circle around the base of the tower, with canceled checks, deposit slips, deeds, titles and power-of-attorney paperwork from Wachovia banks strewn everywhere.
Investigators from 30 law enforcement and fire rescue agencies, the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were trying to determine what led to the crash.
"I think he just flew too close to the tower," Knott said.
Spokesmen at Sanford-Lee County Airport and Harnett County Airport said staff reported no unusual radio calls or activity during the day.
At the time of the crash, residents of nearby Buckhorn Road were drawn out of their houses by a loud explosion.
Twelve-year-old Carson Hunt was watching television and said his house shook.
"It felt like a bomb hit," he told The News & Observer of Raleigh.
He ran outside in time to see the tower falling, toppling piece by piece in a matter of seconds until it crumpled to the ground. A thick cloud of black smoke engulfed the ruins.
"It looked like it was in slow motion. It didn't seem real. That's when I got scared and ran back inside and got my dad," Hunt said.
Melvina Shackleton was covered in soot after inspecting the damage near Buckhorn Road.
"Mail was everywhere," she said.
The crash interrupted service from WKFT (Channel 40) to 873,000 households in 22 Triangle-area counties, said Robert Salat, company vice president and general manager. Salat said the Fayetteville-based station leases the tower, built in 1986, from Capital Broadcasting, which owns WRAL.
Workers planned to restore service to 489,000 households overnight through satellite wiring.
The tower is located in a rural area about five miles north of Broadway and about 40 miles southwest of Raleigh.
Get this... "I think he just flew too close to the tower," Harnett County Sheriff Larry Knott said.
"I think he just flew too close to the tower," Knott said. ?!?!?!? Good call after he observed that the plane crashed.
Call me Fleet Admiral §pêêÐƒrêák™!
Go get me some coffee.