Payne Stewart Dies In Plane Crash


Winner Of This Years Golf Opener
Payne Stewart Dies In Plane Crash  

Monday October 25, 1999, golfer, Payne Stewart boards and departs in a Lear 35 jet out of Orlando, Florida., this morning at about 9 am bound for Dallas, Texas. The jet cleared to climb to its enroute attitude. As the Lear Jet flew over Gainesville, Florida air traffic controllers lost radio contact with its flight crew. Just after 10 am, the Federal Aviation Administration requests and receives assistance from Tyndall Air Force Base and Eglin Air Force Base  in Florida. Initially two F15's are sent up from Tyndall. Later the F15's are replaced by two F16's out of Eglin Air Force Base. 

About 10.52 am, the F16's spot the Lear Jet in a climb. This particular jet, the Lear 35 has a recommended Cruise of 529 mph, rate of climb 4,760 feet per minute and a service ceiling: 45,000 feet. This jet was 23 years old, eight passenger, logged more than 10,000 hours of flight time with no history of serious mechanical problems, according to the FAA. 

Just after 11. am The F-16 fighters determined that there is no movement within the aircraft and the jet has its auto pilot engaged. The tail number of the jet is given to the news media, N47BA. At 1 pm the air force reports the windows of the Lear Jet were fogged with ice and that aircraft is beginning to loose control. Authorities reported the plane was "porpoising"' fluctuating between 22,000 and 51,000 feet. It presumably ran out of fuel  At about 1.15 pm some four hours after it took off, the jet begins spiraling out of control. Within moments the jet crashes in a swamp five to 10 miles south of Mina, South Dakota, killing all on board. Those onboard were was Stewart, his agents, Robert Fraley and Van Ardan; pilots Michael Kling, 43, and Stephanie Bellegarrigue, 27; and Bruce Borland, 40, one of Jack Nicklaus' golf course designers.

Stewart's wife, Tracey, franticly tried to reach her husband on his cellular phone while she followed the drama began unfolding on television on CNN. It is speculated that the Lear Jet decompressurized while in its enroute climb to Dallas, Texas. This would require the pilot and crew to put on their oxygen masks. However, it appears that the crew did not have time to do so and the temerpiture in the Jet may have dropped to 70 below zero. A videotape was made by fighter pilots who chased after the jet may yield few clues because the Learjet's windows were frosted over. The oxygen valves on this jet had been replaced in 1995 by the previous owner. Four years ago, federal regulators ordered that valves that regulate pressure on Learjets be replaced to "prevent rapid decompression of the airplane."

William Payne Stewart, was one of the most recognizable players in golf because he wore traditional knickers and a tam-o'-shanter hat. Stewart won 18 tournaments, including three major championships. In June, he won his second U.S. Open. Stewart was widely known for big victories, his gregarious manner and trademark knickers. When he won the 1987 Hertz Bay Hill Classic, Stewart donated his entire winning of $108,000 to the Florida Hospital Golden Circle of Friends. This was in memory of his father who had died of cancer two years before.

October 29, 1999, Damage to the cockpit voice recorder recovered from the Learjet 35.
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