NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — As Illinois State University mourned Wednesday over the deaths of an assistant basketball coach, a school administrator and five fans killed in a plane crash, investigators focused on one of the many questions they’ll have to answer: Why the aircraft made a sudden turn in an unexpected direction.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator Todd Fox said the twin-engine Cessna 414 began to climb out of its descent into Central Illinois Regional Airport early Tuesday as if it had missed its approach. If that happened, the plane should have climbed and turned west. Instead it turned east. The school officials and fans on the plane were returning from the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis.
“The aircraft was seen (on radar) to climb and then descend well on this easterly heading” before crashing in a farm field just east of the airport, Fox said. The final radio communications from pilot Thomas Hileman as the plane neared the airport included no sign of distress, Fox added.
Final word on the crash will not come for a year to 18 months, though a preliminary report is expected next week.