The Associated Press April 20, 1993, Tuesday, PM cycle


SECTION: Domestic News

HEADLINE: South Dakota Gov. George Mickelson, Seven Others Killed in Plane Crash
BYLINE: By GREG SMITH, Associated Press Writer
DATELINE: DUBUQUE, Iowa
BODY:
South Dakota Gov. George Mickelson, who followed his father's political footsteps to the state Capitol, was killed along with seven other people when their state-owned plane crashed in a rainstorm.
The 52-year-old Republican was on his way back from Cincinnati, where he other state officials had gone on a lobbying mission to protect jobs at a Sioux Falls, S.D., meatpacking plant.
State flags were lowered Monday night in South Dakota as tearful state employees gathered in the governor's Capitol office to share their grief.
"There are no words to describe the sadness that I and the people of South Dakota feel tonight," Lt. Gov. Walter Dale Miller said in a statement.
Miller, a Republican, was to be sworn in this afternoon as South Dakota's 29th governor. He will serve the remaining two years of Mickelson's term.
The twin-engine turboprop went down Monday afternoon at a farm 14 miles southwest of Dubuque after the pilot reported engine trouble and was cleared for an emergency landing at the Dubuque airport. The plane sheared off a silo and crashed through a barn, bursting into flames. No one on the ground was hurt.
"As far as the plane itself is concerned, it's in many pieces, small pieces, pretty much broken up," Sheriff Bob Lyons said.
Jackson County Medical Examiner Paul Koob said seven of the eight were burned beyond recognition but that positive identification should be completed by late today using dental records.
Wreckage of the barn still smoldered today. No one was home at the time of the crash but some livestock in the barn died, said Rose Marie Ambrosy, whose family owns the farm.
"You can see parts of the plane all over the hay field," Ambrosy said.
Heavy rain was reported in the area at the time, but the Federal Aviation Administration said it had not determined if weather was a factor. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were sent to the site.
Also killed were state Economic Development Commissioner Roland Dolly; state Energy Policy Commissioner Ron Reed; banker Dave Birkeland, Roger Hainje, director of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation; Angus Anson of Northern States Power; and two pilots, Ron Becker and Dave Hansen.
Mickelson was narrowly elected governor in 1986 and won another four-year term in 1990. His father, George T. Mickelson, was governor of South Dakota from 1947 to 1951.
"I grew up in a family where government and the political process were part of table conversation," Mickelson said in an interview last year.
Mickelson was co-chairman of the National Governors Association's task force on health care.
"George didn't ever let partisanship stand in the way of serving the people," said former North Dakota Gov. George Sinner, a Democrat. "Nor did he ever fear doing the tough things when they were right."
Mickelson was born in Mobridge, S.D. After earning a law degree from the University of South Dakota in 1965, he spent two years with the Army and served in Vietnam. He served in the state House for six years, his final term in 1979-80 as speaker.
After first taking office, Mickelson raised $ 40 million for low-interest business loans through a temporary increase in the sales tax. He won passage of a two-year freeze on property taxes and a debt-restructuring program for farmers.
In 1989, he made two record increases in state aid to school districts by setting aside 56 percent of the state's sales tax revenue.
Mickleson said his initiatives had created more than 6,000 jobs, raised teacher salaries, held down property taxes and avoided a state income tax.
Democrats contended his job loan program didn't support agricultural production and said his increases in education aid barely kept up with inflation.
After a 1989 party at the governor's mansion, Mickelson's teen-age son David was charged with a sexual offense stemming from an alleged rape. The governor and his wife were out of town at the time. David Mickelson was acquitted of sexual offenses but was put on probation for underage drinking.
Besides his son and his wife, Linda, Mickelson survivors include another son and a daughter.
Miller, 67, a rancher and insurance executive, spent 20 years in the South Dakota House, where he was speaker and majority leader. He left the Legislature in 1986 to become Mickelson's running mate.

 

The Associated Press April 24, 1993, Saturday, AM cycle


April 24, 1993, Saturday, AM cycle
SECTION: Washington Dateline

HEADLINE: Propeller Missing From Governor's Plane
BYLINE: By LAWRENCE L. KNUTSON, Associated Press Writer
DATELINE: WASHINGTON
BODY:


Federal investigators said Saturday they had discovered metal fatigue and fractures on the mountings that connect a missing propeller blade to the plane that crashed Monday, killing South Dakota's governor.
The twin-engine Mitsubishi MU-2 aircraft, whose pilot had reported engine trouble, crashed into a 75-foot silo, killing Gov. George Mickelson and seven other people.
Alan Pollock, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said an agency metallurgist working at the crash site nine miles south of the Dubuque, Iowa, airport found "evidence of a pre-existing crack and a fatigue zone."
The aircraft parts have been sent to the safety agency's laboratories here for further testing.
Pollock said the Iowa crash resembles a 1991 incident over Utica, N.Y., in which a propeller blade separated in flight and pierced the fuselage of a similar aircraft.
He said both planes showed evidence of cracks and fatigue near the hub where the propeller blade was attached.
The safety board recommended after the Utica crash that the Federal Aviation Administration develop a means of testing such propeller blades for fatigue and cracks.
Pollock said the FAA declined to act because there had been only one such incident.
He said that as recently as last August the safety board repeated its concerns and told the FAA that the potential for a catastrophic accident existed.
The safety agency also will examine air traffic control records at Chicago and review the taped conversations between the Dubuque air traffic control tower and the aircraft.
In the current accident a number of factors point to the missing propeller, although it will probably take the safety board six to nine months to officially determine the cause of the accident.
Pollock said eyewitnesses to the crash reported that one engine was not turning.
And he said radar data when the aircraft was about 25 miles from Dubuque at an altitude of 24,000 feet shows a small object close to the plane.
Radar data at 8,000 feet also shows a small object, this time moving away from the aircraft.
"We are very interested in finding that lost propeller," Pollock said, adding that the possibility that it separated in flight is "one of the areas we are focusing on."
In addition, Pollock said the safety agency is looking into the background of the pilots and how the state of South Dakota managed and serviced and maintained the aircraft.
Jim Brown, chairman of Hartzell Propeller Inc. of Piqua, Ohio, maker of the propeller, said Saturday that so far his company has not been advised by federal investigators on whether anything should be done about the thousands of other aircraft that use some version of the Hartzell propeller.
He said the propeller has had a good record, given the numbers in use.
"There are well in excess of 35,000 of this style of propeller," he said. "They've been in service for over 30 years. It's been an enormously reliable product for us."

 

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