Brunswick, GA Commuter Plane Crash Kills John Tower, Sonny Carter and 21 others, Apr 1991

John Tower.jpg John Tower Plane Crash 1991.jpg Astronaut Manley Carter died in John Tower crash.jpg 4-5-1991 Brunswick GA Plane Crash.jpg Brunswick GA 4-5-1991 2.jpg Brunswick GA 4-5-1991.jpg



Brunswick, Ga. (AP) -- A commuter plane carrying former U.S. Sen JOHN TOWER, his daughter and 21 others crashed and burned Friday, killing all on board, authorities said. One victim was a NASA astronaut.
The twin-engine turboprop plane was en route from Atlanta to Brunswick when it crashed on its approach to Glynco Jetport, said Lee Duncan, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.
The death of TOWER, a Texas Republican who served four terms in the Senate, came a day after an air collision over a Philadelphia suburb killed Sen. John Heinz, R-Pa., and six other people.
"It's so sad," President Bush said upon learning of the death of his long time Texas political associate.
The Atlantic Southeast Airlines plane -- identified by the FAA as an Embraer 120 -- crashed shortly before 3 p.m. in a wooded area about 3 miles from the airport near this southeastern Georgia city. The sky was clear and visibility was about 7 miles when Flight 2311 went down, authorities said.
"I saw the plane when it was in trouble. It started in on its nose and I knew it was in trouble," said James Griner, who lives about a quarter of a mile from the jetport.
"I went completely around the plane looking for people, but I couldn't find anyone," he said. "I went to the plane but I couldn't get to it because of the fire. When I got to it it looked compacted, it was a mess. I looked for survivors around the plane I couldn't find a soul."
The plane crashed into a thicket of trees, narrowly missing a mobile home park about a mile away. Rescuers had to bulldoze a 150-yard path to reach the site.
Leslie Komet, a reporter with WBSG-TV, said the plane landed nose first.
"It looks like it went right straight in," said Frank Manning, a pilot who flew over the crash scene.
By the time firefighters could run hoses off the nearest road and extinguish the fire, little was left of the airplane.
"Literally all that's left of the plane is the tail and a clump of metal where the cockpit used to be," said Bill Kitchen, a reporter for WMOG radio in Brunswick.
All those on board were killed, said Carl Alexander, Glynn County police chief.
Duncan and ASA Senior Vice President John Beiser said 20 passengers and three crew members were on board. Beiser wouldn't release their names.
Beiser, whose airline is affiliated with Delta Air Lines, said officials had no indication from the pilot that the flight was in trouble.
"The weather was clear. The airplane was on approach when we received the report it was down," he said. "We had no unusual contact with the pilot."
National Transportation Safety Board investigators were dispatched to the crash site, said Glynn County police Maj. Phillip Johnson.
Astronaut MANLEY LANIER "SONNY" CARTER, JR., was on the flight, said his wife, Dana, in suburban Houston. CARTER, 43, flew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on a five-day mission for the Pentagon in November 1989.
TOWER and his 35-year-old daughter, MARIAN, also were on the ASA flight, said Larry Nelson, a spokesman at Tower's Dallas office.
The Towers were heading to a dinner in his honor at the Sea Island resort community. Tower had planned a weekend at the resort, and had scheduled several media interviews about his new book, "Consequences; A Personal and Political Memoir."
Flags at the Texas Capitol were lowered to half staff moments after confirmation came that the Towers were on the flight.