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Eyewitness account recounts crippled plane and crash

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 ~ Updated 11:08 AM

Monett pilot Frank Yankoviz was flying alongside Edwards and Armstrong when the plane crash occurred. Yankoviz told The Times that Armstrong was teaching Edwards, who has experience on single-engine planes, how to fly a twin engine plane.

During the flight, problems developed on one of the plane's engines. The pilots reported the right engine was intentiionally shut down due to lack of oil pressure. They intended to fly the crippled craft to Monett or Mt. Vernon.

Yankoviz said he was in constant radio contact with the plane. Once one of the engines failed, Yankoviz was able to overtake them. Armstrong had taken over flying by that point, and Edwards was talking on the radio.

The plane, which had been fully fueled, was steadily losing altitude. Yankoviz said he flew alongside the plane and reported there was no smoke. Armstrong was attempting to reach the Monett airport but asked Yankoviz for the vector to the Mt. Vernon Airport as an alternative.

As the plane descended further, it became clear that even the Mt. Vernon Airport was out of reach. The plane was attempting to reach Interstate 44 for a landing when it crashed. Yankoviz said the fireball erupted immediately, shooting 1,000 feet into the sky.

"They were pillars of the community and my best flying friends," Yankoviz said.

Yankoviz immediately informed the Springfield airport of the crash, but he said he was sure Edwards and Armstrong had not survived.



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