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Speed May Have Had Role in Fatal Plane Collision

March 03, 2000

SYLMAR — An experimental airplane was flying at nearly 250 mph when it collided with another aircraft over a golf course last month, and the high speed may have contributed to the collision that killed four people, the chief accident investigator said Thursday.

The speedy kit aircraft, a Questair Venture, collided with a Bellanca Scout, which was circling at about 98 mph, said George Petterson of the National Transportation Safety Board. Analysis has not been completed, however, to determine who was at fault for the Feb. 7 collision, he said.

The Questair was flown by Charles D. Oliver, 53, of Glendora, a veteran professional pilot of large executive aircraft. Oliver was flying with a co-enthusiast and they were headed for a landing at Van Nuys Airport.

The two pilots of the Bellanca were looking for possible leaks in a pipeline at a construction site next to the golf course. They had been alerted three times about other aircraft in the vicinity prior to the collision, Petterson said.

"The facts and conditions are that [Oliver] was going quite fast. That's for sure," Pettersen said. "It could be a contributing factor." He said, however, that various planes travel at different speeds and there is no speed limit on aircraft.

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