Wed, Nov 24, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Aircraft crashes en route to pick up former US president

AP , HOUSTON

A private jet that was en route to Houston to pick up former US President George H.W. Bush clipped a light pole and crashed as it approached Hobby Airport in thick fog, killing all three people aboard.

The Gulfstream G-1159A jet, coming into Houston, Texas, went down about 6:15am Monday in an undeveloped area 3km south of the airport, officials said.

The former president had been scheduled to travel to Ecuador for a conference.

"I was deeply saddened to learn of the plane crash this morning," Bush said through spokesman Tom Frechette. "I'd flown with this group before and know them well. I join in sending heartfelt condolences to each and every member of their families."

The names of the three crew members were not immediately released.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the "black box" flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder had been recovered, and appeared to be in good enough shape to read the data.

Mark Rosenker, the NTSB's vice chairman, said the agency would examine a number of factors, including the aircraft's condition, what the pilots were doing and the weather.

He said standard toxicology tests would be performed on the bodies and FBI agents joined the investigation at the NTSB's request, as is routine.

"We are treating this at this moment as a transportation accident. We have no reason to believe it is anything other than that," Rosenker said.

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