Report: Weather caused Verhalen airplane crash
March 11, 2013 at 6:12 a.m.
Robin Y. Richardson
ANGEL FIRE, NM - The Angel Fire, NM, plane accident that killed members of the Verhalen family, of Marshall, was caused by windy weather, according to a preliminary report recently released by the National Transportation Safety Board.
According to the report, when the pilot arrived at the airport, a fixed base operator employee questioned the pilot's intent to fly in the windy weather.
"The pilot indicated that he planned to fly and that the winds would not be a problem," the report states.
When the pilot radioed on universal communications that he was taxiing to runway 17, the current wind and altimeter were relayed to the pilot by the FBO employee, which were repeated by the pilot.
The report says that due to snow piles on the airfield, the FBO employee could not see the takeoff and next saw the airplane airborne with a significant crab angle into the wind, about 40 degrees right of the runway heading.
"The airplane rose and fell repeatedly as its wings rocked," the report states. The right wing of the plane rose rapidly. The plane then rolled and the nose of the plane pointed straight down.
"The airplane was substantially damaged and a post-impact fire ensued," the report said.
All four passengers in the plane died. The deceased included 33-year-old John Philip Verhalen III, the pilot; his sister, 41-year-old Sarah Verhalen; Sara's daughter, 13-year-old Chloe Marie Jameson; and 26-year-old Jennifer Woodward; John's girlfriend.
Both Philip and Sarah are originally from the Marshall-Scottsville area. The group was heading back to the Dallas-Forth Worth area following a ski trip last Sunday when the accident occurred.