At about 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 23rd, Yell County dispatchers received a 911 call reporting a possible plane down near the area of 25893 Highway 80 near Blue Ball Road.
According to reports, the FAA lost contact with a plane and residents in the area heard a large explosion.
The plane was described to be white with a blue stripe and was a single engine aircraft.
After taking the report, Yell County 911 operators dispatched the Yell County Sheriff’s Department, Pinnacle EMS, Yell County Mounted Patrol, Danville Rescue and Arkansas State Police to Highway 80 near Waltreak.
Dispatch informed responders that Life flight advised they were en route to assist but Survival Flight 7 cancelled their response due to weather conditions.
As the search efforts continued, the weather conditions began to deteriorate and due to the time, it became dark, making the search efforts more difficult. After reviewing various maps and consulting with FAA officials, at about 7:30 p.m., search and rescue personnel made the decision to relocate to two other areas of interest to begin additional
search efforts. One of the areas of interest was near Dutch Creek and the second was off of Kingston Road. The staging areas for the Dutch Creek search was at the Dutch Creek Fire Department and the Kingston Road staging area was set up at New Bethel Church in Ola.
Just after 8 p.m. Friday night, rescue personnel began running side by sides and ATV’s along Highway 60 West and Forestry Service Road 477 after officials received coordinates from FAA. Search personnel were advised that the coordinates should put them within 1000 feet of location where the plane had last been seen in radar.
At approximately 8:20 p.m. search and rescue personnel advised they were en route up the mountain on the road just before the Dutch Creek bridge and would continue search efforts there. A short time later, personnel in that area advised they had located what appeared to debris but they had not located the plane.
After continuing to search for the plane in unfavorable conditions, search crews suspended the search efforts for the night but planned to return to the area on Saturday morning to resume the search efforts. At that time, emergency responders and search and rescue personnel returned available for service and left the area.
After the search efforts were suspended for the night, RVN learned that the looking plane was a 1985 Piper PA-46-310P Malibu, a single engine aircraft that has a pressurized cabin and has the capacity for one pilot and five passengers.
Further research revealed that the plane had taken off at 4:22 p.m. from Muskogee, Oklahoma and according to the planes flight plan, was en route to Williston, Florida. The plane was scheduled to land at the Williston Municipal Airport at 9:19 p.m. Friday night, but it had not made its landing as scheduled and was overdue.
After reviewing the radar footage and statistical information concerning the plane’s flight, it appeared that after taking off from the Muskogee-Davis Regional Airport, the plane climbed to the altitude of 20,000 feet.
At 4:58 p.m. Friday afternoon, the plane reached the altitude of 20,200 feet when for unknown reasons, it suddenly began to drop, traveling at speeds of up to 201 mph.
The airplane was then seen on radar traveling in a circle like pattern just over Scott and Yell counties and then radar contact was lost.
At about 10 a.m. Saturday morning, April 24, search and rescue personnel returned to the area and resumed the their search efforts. After conducting the search, at approximately 11 a.m., the wreckage was found in the area of Dutch Creek Township and it was determined that their were no survivors.
At this time, authorities have contacted the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and have secured the crash site.
Once the NTSB arrives on scene, they will begin their investigation into how the crash occurred. The NTSB will conduct an extensive investigation into the crash in order to determine what caused the crash and other unknown details.
At this time, the number of fatalities involved in the crash and their identities have not been released.