October 29, 2002

              Wellstone crash probe could last for months

              By The Associated Press
              EVELETH, Minn. - The chief federal
              investigator into the plane crash that killed
              Sen. Paul Wellstone said Monday that
              extensive damage to the aircraft has blocked
              any quick answer into whether de-icing
              equipment was operating properly.

              The National Transportation Safety Board is trying to
              determine why the twin-engine aircraft crashed and burned
              Friday morning about 2 1/2 miles from the Eveleth-Virginia
              Municipal Airport. One question is whether ice built up on
              the plane, which would have affected flight.

              The NTSB's Frank Hilldrup said Monday that the agency
              learned that one pilot who departed from the airport about
              50 minutes after the crash reported slight icing after his
              plane entered cloud cover at about 1,000 feet.

              At the airport, local pilots expressed doubt.

              "There was little ice. It was normal. We see it all the time,"
              said Don Sipola, a flight instructor with 25 years experience.

              NTSB officials have said the investigation could take
              months; Hilldrup said investigators plan to stay in Eveleth
              another couple of days or so.

              The crash killed Wellstone and his wife, Sheila, both 58;
              their daughter, Marcia Markuson, 33; and three campaign
              staffers and two pilots. The Wellstones were on their way to
              a funeral.

              Hilldrup said the plane's landing gear appeared to have been
              down and its flaps lowered properly. He said investigators
              were doing routine checks on how the pilots spent their
              time before the flight, but weren't aware of anything of
              concern.

              During a brief Senate session in Washington, Wellstone was
              eulogized by lawmakers as an uncommon advocate for the
              common man.

              The somber 40-minute remembrance, held while most
              senators were away from Washington, was a prelude to a
              Wellstone memorial today in Minnesota.

              A private family funeral was held in Minneapolis on Monday.

              Related:

              Mondale may be formidable foe

              Editorial: The Wellstone tradition: Mondale would be fitting
              replacement on ticket
 
 

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                 unless labeled as being from the Associated Press (AP),
                    in which case Copyright 2002 Associated Press
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