Pilot says door was ajar before Fort Worth plane crash



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Posted on September 5, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 5 at 5:28 PM

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FORT WORTH — A twin-engine Cessna 421 crashed while taking off near Spinks Airport at 9:51 a.m. Wednesday, injuring two people inside, emergency officials said.

A witness said after the plane took off, it failed to climb and slammed into the ground before bursting into flames about a quarter-mile from the end of the runway.

The aircaft apparently had a mechanical problem just before the crash.

"We had a door come open," veteran pilot John Campbell calmly said in a radio message to the tower. "I'm gonna make a 180 real quick."

That was the final contact with the plane before it crashed seconds later in a field near the airport, located along Interstate 35W near the Fort Worth-Burleson border.

Campbell and passenger Mark Amador somehow got away from the fiery wreckage and got help from some Federal Aviation Administration workers who witnessed the impact.

"They walked away from the plane, they met with the workers on the dirt roadway behind me," said Fort Worth Fire Department spokesman Tim Hardeman. "They were able to make it out of the plane and onto the roadway on their own."

Two CareFlite helicopters were called to the scene to take the injured to Parkland Memorial Hospital's burn unit in Dallas, MedStar spokesman Matt Zavadsky said. The men are said to have extensive burns.

Both men were listed in serious condition.

As paramedics treated the wounded, firefighters worked to put out a brush fire sparked by the crash.

A fellow pilot familiar with the plane said Campbell was headed to San Antonio and Victoria before returning to Fort Worth.

The National Transportation Safety board is investigating the cause of the incident. Pilots said the open door itself would not necessarily cause the plane to crash, but it might have contributed to other problems.

Everyone agrees that Campbell and Amador are very lucky to be alive.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com