FAA: 3 dead as two small planes collide over Cincinnati suburb

Associated Press • May 12, 2007 at 12:48 PM

SHARONVILLE, Ohio - Two small planes collided Friday over suburban Cincinnati, raining debris onto roads and back yards and killing three people on board, federal investigators said.

Based on witness accounts, the Federal Aviation Administration initially said one of the aircraft might have been a helicopter. The agency later confirmed two planes were involved. The FAA had no information about the aircrafts' flight plans or why they were so close together. Blue Ash Airport, a runway used by small planes, is several miles away.

The planes' pilots were not required to file flight plans and apparently were not in contact with air traffic controllers, the FAA said. Under federal regulations, the pilots were responsible for maintaining a safe distance on It was a clear, sunny afternoon.

Two of the victims were aboard a Cessna 172, and their identities were withheld pending notification of relatives. The pilot of the other plane, a Beech- craft Bonanza, was identified as Neils Harpsoe of suburban West Chester.

No injuries were reported on the ground. Several roads were closed because of the debris.

A piece of wreckage rested against a guardrail on a heavily traveled highway, where a police car with lights flashing blocked the debris for investigators as vehicles drove past.

Resident Joe Muenks said wreckage from one of the planes fell in a yard about three blocks from his house.

"It took out about a third of a tree," Muenks said. "The plane nose-dived. ... The metal was so crunched together we could just see there was no way anyone who was in there could have survived." His son, Kevin, was playing basketball in the backyard and heard the collision. "I just heard a big pop and I looked up," Kevin Muenks said. "The plane was just coming straight down, just nose-dived into the ground. There was no explosion, fire or anything." What remained of the other plane landed in a street a few miles away, blocking the two-lane road with some debris ending up in a front yard. The two aircraft narrowly missed a circle freeway that was clogged with traffic just before rush hour.

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