Here are the details about fatal plane crash near Thomson airport

Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 10:09 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2021 at 12:50 PM EDT
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THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Two people died Tuesday morning when a small jet crashed while on approach to the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport.

The McDuffie County Coroner’s Office identified the victims as Raymond Bachman, 73, of Fountain Hills, Ariz., and Claude Duchesne, 63, of El Paso, Texas. Both were pilots of the plane that was carrying cargo, according to federal investigators.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the two victims were the only people on the Dassault Falcon 20 business jet when it crashed around 6 a.m. on its way to the airport from Lubbock, Texas.

A crashed plane's fuselage can be seen on Oct. 5, 2021, in McDuffie County.
A crashed plane's fuselage can be seen on Oct. 5, 2021, in McDuffie County.(WRDW)

After being notified of a missing plane, deputies found the wreckage just after 7 a.m. in a field off the 3100 block of Wrightsboro Road just west of the airport, 501 John T. Lane Road, according to Chief Deputy Ronnie Williamson.

The wreckage was about a quarter-mile short of the runway, according to a National Transportation Safety Board investigator. He said the debris field was scattered and the plane wreckage was highly fragmented, but there was no sign of a fire.

The plane had hit some trees, but it’s unknown whether they were a cause of the crash or whether that happened as the plane was crashing.

The FlightAware website shows a Dassault Falcon 20 jet was due to arrive at the Thomson airport around 5:45 to 6 a.m. from Lubbock. The flight history shows the plane making several trips in the past several days, many of them to and from El Paso, Texas.

FlightAware shows the operator of that plane as California-based Pak West Airlines, also known as Sierra West Airlines. The charter and on-demand passenger and cargo airline has one Falcon 20 in its fleet that’s based in El Paso. It uses the plane mainly for cargo, according to its website.

Duchesne is a commercial pilot who’s had his license since January 2017. Bachman is also a pilot who’s been licensed since at least December 2017.

NTSB investigators will look at factors including the plane, the conditions, the pilots and other circumstances that might have led to the crash. They have recovered the cockpit voice recorder, which they hope will offer insights on what happened leading up the crash.

Investigators’ first priority is documenting evidence that needs to be documented quickly. Then the wreckage will be transported to another location in Georgia where authorities can examine it.

The NTSB expects to issue a preliminary report within about 10 days stating the known facts about the crash. A final report that could include the cause might not be issued for a year and half.

The Thomson airport is capable of serving jets. On its website, it describes itself as “the largest general aviation facility in the CSRA.” Spirit Aviation advertises the ability to serve Masters Tournament traffic coming into to the airport or leaving on small as well as larger private jets.

The Dassault Falcon is a family of business jets in a few sizes, configurations and ranges, with up to three engines. All are small compared to typical commercial airliners. The Falcon 20 has two engines.

This is a Falcon 20 that NASA uses for research and that's similar to the plane that crashed in...
This is a Falcon 20 that NASA uses for research and that's similar to the plane that crashed in Thomson.(WRDW)

This crash wasn’t the first one near the airport.

On Feb. 20, 2013, at 8:06 p.m., a Beechcraft 390 Premier returning from a business flight from Nashville, touched down at the airport. The aircraft did not slow as the pilot expected and, about seven seconds later, the pilot initiated a go-around. About nine more seconds passed before the aircraft collided with a utility pole about 1,835 feet from the departure end of the runway, 63 feet above the ground. Both the pilot and co-pilot suffered serious injuries and all five passengers were killed.

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