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Published: Tuesday, 9/2/2008

Empty cargo plane crashes in Ohio field; all 3 on board die


LOCKBOURNE, Ohio - An empty cargo plane crashed in a cornfield shortly after takeoff yesterday, killing all three crew members and sparking a grassfire, authorities said.

The twin-engine 1956 Convair 580, owned by cargo transporter Air Tahoma, departed from Rickenbacker Airport around noon and crashed south of Columbus near the town of Lockbourne, Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Tony Bradshaw said. Names of the victims were not released.

The pilot radioed the airport just before the crash to ask for a landing strip, but did not request emergency equipment, Pickaway County Sheriff Dwight Radcliff said.

Kevin Roberts, who lives on a farm near the crash site, was repairing a tractor when he and a friend heard the plane.

"We heard the plane fly low, and it sounded so loud it shook the barn," he said. "Then we heard a boom. We looked out and saw smoke." At least five fire departments worked to bring the grassfires under control, with some firefighters driving tankers through cornfields to get to the site.

Rickenbacker-based Air Tahoma flies often to the Philippines, Vietnam, and the Caribbean, and contracts with FedEx. The plane was headed to Mansfield, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Elizabeth Isham Cory said.

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