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Pilots Believed Dead in Cape Cod Crash

August 27, 2003|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

BOSTON — A commuter plane carrying only a pilot and copilot crashed Tuesday off Cape Cod, moments after taking off from Barnstable Airport in Hyannis, Mass.

The crew of Colgan Air Flight 9446, bound for Albany, N.Y., reported an emergency immediately after takeoff at 3:38 p.m., officials said. The pilots of the Beechcraft 1900, a twin-engine turboprop, were attempting to return to the airport when the plane plunged into Lewis Bay, an inlet of Nantucket Sound, about three miles off the coast.

Dive teams from Cape Cod aided in the search for the pilots, and the Coast Guard enlisted pleasure boats to help. But by early evening, the effort shifted from rescue to salvage.

Mark Foley, a spokesman for the Fire Department in Yarmouth, the closest Cape Cod community to the crash site, said: "The rescue effort ceased when it became apparent there were no survivors." He said recovery efforts were suspended for the night.

The pilots were identified by Colgan Air as Capt. Scott Knabe, 39, of Cincinnati, and First Officer Steven Dean, 38, of Euless, Texas.

"We at Colgan are devastated and saddened by the loss of Scott and Steve, two well-respected and well-liked crew members," Colgan President Mike Colgan said in a statement posted on the company's Web site Tuesday night.

The crash Tuesday was the second fatal incident this year involving a Beechcraft 1900. On Jan. 8, a Beechcraft 1900D operated by Mesa Airlines for US Airways Express crashed shortly after taking off from Charlotte, N.C., killing all 19 passengers and the two pilots aboard.

But poor visibility and overloading -- two apparent factors in the Charlotte crash -- were not present Tuesday.

The Colgan plane carried no cargo and took off on a clear summer afternoon, with gentle winds that raised only a light chop in Hyannis harbor.

The plane, built in 1993, was on a routine repositioning flight, according to Colgan Air spokeswoman Amy Kudwa. Colgan Air, based in Manassas, Va., is a carrier for US Airways Express. It serves 31 cities in 11 states on the East Coast.

There was no immediate information on the cause of the crash.

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