Midland, TX Air Crash Kills TV Crew, Nov 1983


Midland, Texas (AP) -- A private plane dived to the ground and burst into flames Saturday as it approached an airport, killing eight people, including six television station employees who had been filming high school football playoffs.
The twin-engine Beechcraft 100 turboprop was flying from Fort Worth about 1:50 a.m. when it "fell nose first for no apparent reason, crashed and burned on impact," said Texas Department of Public Safety dispatcher JERRY WARREN.
The plane crashed on the Scharbauer Ranch adjacent to a runway of the Midland-Odessa Regional Air Terminal.
All eight people aboard were killed instantly, said Peace Justice BOB PINE. WARREN said four of the victims were burned beyond recognition.
The plane was returning with a KOSA-TV crew, which included the Odessa station's assistant news director, sports director and chief engineer.
"We lost some key people, but fortunately we have enough staff left to put the news on," said KOSA-TV anchor BRENT BOYNTON.
The plane burned for about four hours before firemen could extinguish the blaze. A charred and twisted heap of metal was all that remained.
BILL GILES, manager of Texas Western Aviation Inc., which chartered the flight for the CBS affiliate, said the television crew was sent Friday to tape highlights of playoff games won by two local teams.
The crew which had flown to Wichita Falls to cover the Odessa Permian-Wichita Falls Rider match and then to Fort Worth for the Midland Lee-Trimble Tech game, GILES said.
The victims were identified as assistant news director GARY HOPPER, 32, of Midland; sports director JEFF SHULL, 25, of Odessa; chief engineer BOBBY STEPHENS, 47, of Odessa; assistant chief engineer EDWARD MONETTE, 26, of Odessa; production assistants BRUCE DYER, 26, of Midland and BRENT ROACH, 24, of Odessa; pilot KEITH ELKIN, 29, of Midland; and JAY ALVIN PRICE, 27, of Midland, a helper for the station at football games and HOPPER'S brother-in-law.
An autopsy was ordered on the pilot and toxicology tests would be performed on all the bodies.
Federal Aviation Administration investigators arrived from Lubbock later in the morning and sealed off the crash site.
FAA spokesman VICTOR FRIER, JR., said the investigators would begin "examining the crash site to see what was hit. Then we'll start tearing the airplane apart."

Daily Herald Chicago Illinois 1983-11-27