Rick Hendrick released from hospital: According to Hendrick Motorsports, "Happy to report Mr. Hendrick is now resting at home. He was released from the hospital [Monday] afternoon.(11-8-2011)
NTSB issues preliminary report on Hendrick plane crash: The plane carrying Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick and his wife, Linda, crossed a 600-foot overrun, impacted the far side of a ditch, crossed a dirt road, cleared another ditch and came to a stop 820 feet from the departure end of the runway when the brakes failed Monday in Key West, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB preliminary report, released Thursday evening, said the Gulfstream G150, manufactured by Israel Aircraft Industries, sustained "substantial damage" after it lost its brakes and the nose landing gear collapsed. The flight originated in Stuart, Fla., at 7 p.m. and the accident happened at 7:40 p.m. The NTSB will continue its investigation and considers all of its current findings "preliminary" until its investigation is complete.(Scene Daily)(10-5-2011)
Rick Hendrick's plane runs off runway: UPDATES: Early Monday evening, a Gulfstream G150 aircraft operated by Hendrick Motorsports ran off the runway after experiencing braking issues upon landing at Key West International Airport in Key West, Fla. There were no serious injuries to any of the four people on board, including two pilots, Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick and his wife, Linda Hendrick. All four were taken to a local hospital for evaluation. Hendrick Motorsports is gathering additional information on the incident.(Hendrick Motorsports)(10-31-2011)
UPDATE: A private G150 Gulfstream jet containing four people missed the runway while landing at Key West International Airport and ran into the salt ponds at 7:45 p.m. No one was seriously injured. The airplane was co-owned by Jimmie Johnson Racing II Inc. and Hendrick Motorsports LLC of Charlotte, N.C. Some officials said it did not appear that the NASCAR driver was on board, but that has not been officially confirmed. Everyone was taken by ambulance to Lower Keys Medical Center for evaluation. Only two complained of injuries: one for neck pain and one for shortness of breath/heart palpitations, according to Monroe County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Deputy Becky Herrin. There were two pilots and two passengers, but it was unclear who was injured. The airport was closed for about an hour, but has reopened. Some fuel spilled, but it was unknown how much. (Key West News)
AND Jenna Fryer, of the Associated Press, posted a photo from the sheriff's office.(10-31-2011)
UPDATE 2: A small jet carrying the owner of NASCAR's top team and his wife lost its brakes and crash landed at a Key West, Fla., airport Monday evening, and the couple suffered minor injuries, officials said. According to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, the pilot and co-pilot radioed that the plane had no brakes upon landing in Key West. Horton said the plane ran off the runway, and then 100 feet beyond a 600-foot safety area that was finished in May. "If we hadn't done that, it likely would have been a different story," Horton said of the safety area that is meant as a runway overrun space. The National Transportation and Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash.(Associated Press/ESPN)(11-1-2011)
UPDATE 3: All four people on board - Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, his wife, Linda Hendrick, and two Hendrick Motorsports pilots - were released from Lower Keys Medical Center early Tuesday morning. Rick Hendrick was diagnosed with a broken rib and a broken clavicle, and Linda Hendrick was treated for minor cuts and bruises. Both pilots were evaluated and released without injury. All four have safely returned to North Carolina. The aircraft, which is joint-owned by Hendrick Motorsports and Jimmie Johnson Racing, remains in Key West.(Hendrick Motorsports)(11-1-2011)
UPDATE 4: Upon returning home to Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday, Mr. Hendrick was further evaluated as a precautionary measure by his personal physician. He was diagnosed with four broken ribs (previously stated as one broken rib), a broken clavicle (as previously stated) and bruising. No other injuries have been identified. Due to discomfort from the injuries, Mr. Hendrick was admitted Tuesday afternoon to a medical facility in the Charlotte area, where doctors believe the pain can most effectively be managed. He is in good spirits and is expected to be released by the end of the week.
Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports: "Linda and I have been overwhelmed by all the words of encouragement and genuine concern we've received. We are blessed to have such a wonderful support system, and our family is extremely grateful for the thoughts and prayers. We extend our sincere thanks to everyone. I'm so proud of how our pilots handled the situation, and we're extremely appreciative of the folks in Key West who went above and beyond to help us. It's good to be back in Charlotte as we regroup and focus on our family."(Hendrick Motorsports)(11-2-2011)
The Hendrick Motorsports Aircraft Wreck in 2004
Hendrick plane crash lawsuits settled: Hendrick Motorsports and the widows of two former Hendrick employees have settled claims with the U.S. government over the October 2004 plane crash that killed 10 people, including four members of team owner Rick Hendrick's family. Lawsuits stemming from the accident were pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals, but recent filings indicate all parties have reached undisclosed settlements to end the litigation. The settlements involved cases in which Linda Turner (widow of HMS general manager Jeff Turner) and Dianne Dorton (widow of HMS engine builder Randy Dorton) had sought money from the government, as did Hendrick Motorsports for the government to contribute to the settlements with the families of victims Scott Lathram (NASCAR driver Tony Stewart's pilot who was a passenger on the plane) and DuPont executive Joe Jackson.(Scene Daily)(5-5-2011)
Former fiance of Ricky Hendrick on the Bachelor: Emily Maynard is one of the contestants on "The Bachelor.'' She was engaged to the late Ricky Hendrick (son of car owner Rick Hendrick). Ricky Hendrick was killed in the Hendrick plane crash in 2004 when it overshot a landing on the way to the Martinsville race and crashed into a mountain. A few days after Hendrick's death, Emily Maynard found out she was pregnant. She has a 5-year-old daughter Josephine is nicknamed "Ricki'' after her father.(Virginian Pilot)(12-17-2010)
Air-traffic controllers not to blame for crash of Hendrick plane: A U.S. District Court judge ruled Wednesday [Sept 8th] that air-traffic controllers were not responsible for the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash that killed 10 people, including four members of team owner Rick Hendrick’s family, on the way to a Sprint Cup race at Martinsville in October 2004. The judge’s ruling came about 14 months after the conclusion of a non-jury trial in Winston Salem, N.C., that covered five lawsuits. Linda Turner (widow of HMS general manager Jeff Turner) and Dianne Dorton (widow of HMS engine builder Randy Dorton) had sought money from the government, as did Hendrick Motorsports for the destruction of its plane and for the government to contribute to the settlements with the families of victims Scott Lathram (a pilot for Cup driver Tony Stewart who was a passenger on the plane) and DuPont executive Joe Jackson. The crash resulted when the Hendrick pilots, who had delayed the flight by 86 minutes because of the weather, became disoriented and began their landing five miles past where they should have at Martinsville/Blue Ridge Airport. A witness said he saw the plane about 1,500 feet in the air two miles past the airport and about three miles from the start of the runway approach. The pilots, who never lowered the plane’s landing gear, continued to fly for at least another minute before executing the mandated missed approach procedure, which they conducted for two miles without making the mandatory right-hand turn, and slammed into Bull Mountain about 27 minutes before the start of the race. Blaming pilots Richard Tracy and Elizabeth Morrison, Judge Thomas Schroeder awarded nothing to the widows or Hendrick. The 98-page ruling, issued Wednesday, can be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals. While the judge was critical of the pilots, he said his decision did not contradict a jury, which in an earlier trial had determined that the pilots were not willfully and recklessly negligent in the crash and therefore their estates did not owe any of the victims money. In addition to the pilots, Dorton, Turner, Jackson and Lathram, killed in the crash were Rick Hendrick’s son, Ricky, Hendrick’s brother, John, and John’s daughters Kimberly and Jennifer. There was no immediate comment on the ruling from Dorton’s attorney. When contacted, a Hendrick Motorsports spokesperson declined comment.(see full story at the SceneDaily)(9-9-2010)
- Jury clears Hendrick pilots of willful and reckless negligence in crash: Hendrick Motorsports pilots Richard Tracy and Elizabeth Morrison were not willfully and recklessly negligent in the October 2004 crash near Martinsville, Va., that killed 10 people, a federal jury has decided in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem, N.C. The decision, filed May 5 and entered into the court docket Thursday, ended the first phase of the trials surrounding the crash, which killed four members of the Hendrick family, two Hendrick employees, two others and both pilots. The verdict, which followed a 10-day trial, ended the first of two trials associated with the crash. The second phase will be a bench trial, which will begin July 7. The jury trial centered around a claim from widow Dianne Dorton, wife of HMS engine builder Randy Dorton, on whether the pilots’ estates could be held liable for the actions of the pilots. The jury decided that the actions of the pilots did not meet the negligence requirements for their estates to be held liable. The bench trial will cover five cases involving widows Dorton; Linda Turner, wife of HMS general manager Jeff Turner; and Tracy Lathram, wife of Tony Stewart pilot Scott Lathram, a passenger on the plane; HMS Holdings, parent company of Hendrick Motorsports; and the United States.(SceneDaily)(5-15-2009)
- Hendrick Motorsports plane crash trial starts: A trial to determine who was responsible for the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash that killed 10 people Oct. 24, 2004, on the way to a NASCAR Cup race at Martinsville Speedway is scheduled to begin Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem, N.C. At issue is who is responsible for the accident – HMS Holdings (parent company of Hendrick Motorsports), the pilots themselves or the government, which is responsible for the air-traffic controllers. The trial covers five cases involving widows Dianne Dorton (wife of HMS engine builder Randy Dorton), Linda Turner (wife of HMS general manager Jeff Turner), and Tracy Lathram (wife of Tony Stewart pilot Scott Lathram, a passenger on the plane); HMS Holdings; the pilots’ estates; and the United States. According to court documents, the crash resulted when the pilots overshot the airport by five miles and failed to follow the missed-approach procedure for the Martinsville/Blue Ridge Airport, which requires a climbing right turn to avoid Bull Mountain. The plane, in heavy cloud cover, climbed without turning and crashed into the mountain, killing all 10 aboard.(SceneDaily)(4-22-2009)
- Hendrick plane crash trial could start later this month: More than four years after a Hendrick Motorsports plane crash that killed 10 people on the way to the NASCAR Cup race Oct. 24, 2004, at Martinsville Speedway, lawsuits over who was responsible for the crash could finally go to trial in the next couple of weeks. A final pretrial conference is set for Friday in cases involving Hendrick Motorsports, the estates of the pilots, the U.S. government and the widows of Hendrick Motorsports engine builder Randy Dorton, general manager Jeff Turner and Tony Stewart pilot Scott Lathram (a passenger on the plane). The trial could start as early as next Monday in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem, N.C. At issue is who is responsible for the accident – HMS Holdings (parent company of Hendrick Motorsports), the pilots themselves or the air-traffic controllers. According to court documents, the crash resulted when the pilots overshot the airport by five miles and failed to follow the missed-approach procedure for the Martinsville/Blue Ridge Airport, which requires a climbing right turn to avoid Bull Mountain. The plane, in heavy cloud cover, climbed without turning and crashed into the mountain, killing all 10 aboard.(Scene Daily)(4-13-2009) Comment here
- Lathram lawsuit settlement reached: Tracy Lathram, whose husband Scott Lathram died in the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash in October 2004 near Martinsville, Va., has settled her lawsuit against Hendrick Motorsports and the government. All sides had agreed to a settlement in June, and it was approved Tuesday in U.S. District Court in North Carolina. The confidential agreement ends all of Lathram's claims against both Hendrick and the air-traffic controllers. It doesn't end Hendrick's request that the government be held at least partially responsible and contribute to any judgments, according to court documents.(SceneDaily.com)(9-19-2007)
- Widow settles lawsuit with Hendrick Motorsports: The widow of Tony Stewart pilot Scott Lathram, a passenger on the plane where 10 people died on a Hendrick Motorsports flight in October 2004 while heading to the race at Martinsville, Va., has settled a lawsuit against the race team. Tracy Lathram will get the biggest portion of the settlement proceeds, while her three children are also beneficiaries, according to the settlement motion in U.S. District Court in North Carolina. The settlement, which is confidential, still needs to be approved by the judge. Three widows had filed suits against the team, and this would be the second settlement. Linda Turner, whose husband, Jeff Turner, was the team general manager, also has settled. Dianne Dorton, widow of team engine builder Randy Dorton, still has her suit pending. (SceneDaily.com)(6-16-2007)
- Court approves Turner-Hendrick settlement: A U.S. District Court judge has approved a settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit of Hendrick Motorsports general manager Jeff Turner stemming from the Oct. 24, 2004, plane accident that killed 10 people on the way to the race in Martinsville, Va. Attorneys for widow Linda Turner, the pilots and Hendrick informed the court about six weeks ago that they had agreed to a settlement, and the court approved the settlement Thursday. The terms of the settlement are confidential. The settlement provides for an equal distribution of settlement proceeds among Linda and her three children, according to a filing with the court. Turner also has sued the U.S. government over the actions of the air-traffic controllers. That suit is still pending, as are two other suits from widows Dianne Dorton and Tracy Lathram against Hendrick Motorsports. In those cases, Hendrick Motorsports has filed a third-party claim against the U.S. government and the actions of the air-traffic controllers. The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that pilot error was the primary cause of the accident.(SceneDaily.com)(3-2-2007)
- Settlement reached in Turner suit against Hendrick: Attorneys for Linda Turner have informed U.S. District Court in North Carolina that she has reached a settlement in her wrongful death lawsuit against Hendrick Motorsports and its pilots stemming from the death of her husband, team general manager Jeff Turner, in the Oct 24, 2004, accident that killed 10 people on the way to the race in Martinsville, Va. The terms of the settlement are confidential, and the court still must approve the settlement. The settlement provides for an equal distribution of settlement proceeds among Linda and her three children. Turner also has sued the U.S. government over the actions of the air-traffic controllers. That suit is still pending, as are two other suits from widows Dianne Dorton and Tracy Lathram against Hendrick Motorsports.(Scenedaily.com)(1-13-2007)
- NASCAR's Hendrick family places cross on plane crash site: Members of NASCAR's Hendrick family have erected a 14-foot cross on Bull Mountain in memory of the 10 people who died when a team plane crashed there in 2004. The 8-foot-wide polished metal cross was placed at the private site about two weeks ago, according to Jesse Essex, manager of media relations for Hendrick Motorsports. He did not know what company completed the project. The cross replaces smaller versions placed at the site soon after the Oct. 25, 2004, crash, which occurred as the group was en route to a Nextel Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.(AP)(4-14-2006)
- FAA now embroiled in Hendrick plane crash lawsuits: Hendrick Motorsports, facing three negligence lawsuits resulting from an Oct. 24, 2004, plane crash near Martinsville (Va.) Airport, contends in court documents that its liability, if any, should be transferred to air traffic controllers. Dianne Dorton, widow of Hendrick engine builder Randy Dorton, and Tracy Lathram, widow of Tony Stewart pilot Scott Lathram, filed separate lawsuits in December in North Carolina Superior Court against Hendrick Motorsports. Linda Turner, widow of former Hendrick Motorsports general manager Jeff Turner, filed a lawsuit earlier this month in North Carolina against the team. Linda Turner also has filed a federal lawsuit in Greensboro, N.C., against the Federal Aviation Administration over the actions of air traffic controllers. All of the lawsuits ask for an unspecified amount of damages. While denying their claims of negligence in the Dorton and Lathram cases, Hendrick Motorsports uses many similar arguments as Turner's complaint against the FAA. Hendrick Motorsports' complaint names air traffic controllers Brian Park, William Thomson Jr. and Jerry Wilson. Hendrick Motorsports alleges that the air traffic controllers failed to properly monitor the aircraft and respond when they should have known the plane was in danger of missing the approach at Martinsville Airport. The National Transportation Safety Board has blamed errors of the pilots as the probable cause of the crash, which killed both pilots and eight others, including four family members of team owner Rick Hendrick. The NTSB report on the crash states that once the plane was cleared for approach and was approved to change its radio frequency away from the controllers' frequency that the "controller no longer had responsibility for the flight." Hendrick's filing also states that Dorton's complaint should be handled as a workers compensation claim.(SceneDaily.com)(3-25-2006)
- Rick Hendrick comments on lawsuit: Car Owner Rick Hendrick made these comments Saturday afternoon at Daytona in response to those recently made by Diane Dorton, wife of Randy Dorton, Hendrick's head engine builder and one of ten people killed in the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash in October 2004. Others who died included Rick's 24-year-old son Ricky Hendrick, John Hendrick and his 22-year-old twin daughters Kymberly and Jennifer, Hendrick Motorsports General Manager Jeff Turner, Dupont Executive Joe Joe Jackson, Scott Lathram, a pilot for driver Tony Stewart, along with the plane's pilots Dick Tracy and Liz Morrison. Mrs. Dorton has filed a lawsuit alleging the plane took off in bad weather because John Hendrick was in too much of a hurry and was unwilling to land at another airport other than the Blue Ridge Airport near Martinsville, Virginia.
"Everybody who had family members on that flight suffered a lot. You know when you look at the pilots and how they were trained and what went on that day, you know it's just disappointing somebody takes things out of context and the facts aren't accurate. I know my brother (John Hendrick) was a white-knuckle flyer, and he had his two daughters on that plane and they waited an hour for the weather to clear. You know the plane landed in front of them and there was a plane that was going behind them that anyone could have gone on to if they wanted to. So, for someone to take a shot at him is totally disappointing and hurtful to my family - my mother, his wife and child.
Then, for Diane to say that we turned our back on her or nobody helped her. I paid Randy's (Dorton) bonus in '04, paid him six months in '05. She's got a BMW. I paid her insurance. We had someone there helping her night and day. I met with her anytime she wanted to. You have insurance and to take care of people and that's what it's for. I don't understand the attack on my brother. Thought it was a cheap shot, disappointing and the facts we not true. The other statement about not getting any help is totally..when you've done as much as we've done and someone makes that kind of comment that's hurtful and disappointing. You know everybody suffered. It was a sad deal. It was an accident. Greensboro (air traffic controllers) made a mistake, the pilots made a mistake and everybody is hurt a lot. It's just really disappointing when you do the best you can and someone grandstands and doesn't get the facts straight."
"My brother was a white-knuckle flyer, he was very afraid. He cancelled a lot of trips because he really didn't really like to fly. He had his two girls on the plane and one of the statements she (Diane Dorton) made he said "we got to go to that airport (Blue Ridge)" which is totally false. You know they waited an hour and he said, and I've talked to people, there were other pilots there (that heard John Hendrick say) "hey if we can't get in we'll just stay home." So, they wait an hour. A plane lands in front of them, meaning things were okay and they go up there. Two well-trained, as good as we've had, I've flown with those two pilots all the time and they simply made a mistake. The weather was not great and Greensboro made a mistake, they didn't alert them they were off course and it happened. That's something I live with. I've got a six month old granddaughter that will never know here dad. You know it's been hurtful to everybody, everybody lost and suffered. Accidents happen and we just have to go on."
"You can do a lawsuit but you don't have to personally attack my family, my brother and you don't have to say the company hadn't helped when we've broken our back and been there and done things. Those are the two items that bother me. Lawsuits don't bother me I mean that's against the insurance company and that's why we have insurance. But when you attack my family personally, when we've done everything we can, I think, I was very disappointed in Diane and I think it was uncalled for and not accurate."
Q) Hendrick's response to being asked about the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report that cited pilot error as the main reason for the crash:
"They didn't mention as much about the failure of the Greensboro controllers didn't tell the pilots they were too low or off course. I was happy to hear them say that they graded our flight department on a scale of nine and we got a nine. Our guys try to do the best they can and we do everything we can to make it as safe as possible. Accidents happen, they happen all the time. The pilots were doing the best job they could. They were as trained as well as they could have been and had a lot of experience in bad weather. In our planes the pilots always make the decision when it's time to go and when to divert. Like I said my brother…. had a couple of pilots call me that fly him all the time and say we've cancelled numerous trips when the weather wasn't good and he'd drive and get his daughters. He had both of his daughters on that plane so that was just, I don't know what is was, a cheap shot and it wasn't true. The facts are the facts and they'll come out.
Q) As to what changes they've made in regards to the team's flight plans:
"We'll do the best we can to be safe and try to go into larger airports that have towers and so forth, but it could happen in a van going to the airport so accidents just happen. I think everybody does the best they can and that's what I live with. My wife has helped me a lot there she's said God has a plan and we have to accept it. It's hard and it hurts and you live with it every minute of every day there's something that reminds you of your friends and family. Life is never the same after one of those but that's just the way it is."(PRN's Garage Pass)(2-11-2006)
- Hendrick Motorsports Plane Crash - lawuit filed: The wife of one of the people who died in the Hendrick plane crash has filed a new lawsuit that places partial blame for the crash on John Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports. Those allegations come from Diane Dorton, who claims Hendrick's desire to get to the race on time may have contributed to the deaths of the ten people in that crash. In a claim she filed on behalf of husband Randy Dorton she claims there were a sequence of events leading up to the crash that could have been avoided. She also claims that they could have also chosen not to go at all. Randy Dorton called Diane on the morning of October 2, 2004. The conversation involved Randy's delay flying to the Subway 500 race in Martinsville. Randy built engines for NASCAR and for Hendrick race teams. Dianne said Randy told her he was supposed to fly by helicopter, but the helicopter was grounded due to bad weather. They'd fly in a Hendrick Motorsports plane instead. Randy waited in the Hendrick hangar for more than an hour. He called Dianne and told her he didn’t think they'd go. He called 47 minutes later and said "we're going." It's not clear who gave the go order for the trip. It's an alleged conversation between pilot Richard Tracy and Hendrick Motorsports president John Hendrick that's part of a negligence and misconduct lawsuit against Hendrick Motorsports.
The suit claims Tracy proposed flying to Danville instead of the Blue Ridge airport due to the weather and that Hendrick said that option was unacceptable because they'd be too far from the track and late for the race. Danville is farther away from the track than Blue Ridge.
"He told us that and I feel certain that he would stay by what he said," said David Burgess, Dianne Dorton's attorney. Burgess said the grounded helicopter pilot was part of that conversation and could be called to testify. A separate lawsuit against Hendrick Motorsports alleges at least 27 other planes aborted landings at Blue Ridge due to weather. Diane said the lawsuit isn't about money. She said it's about finding the truth about what happened to Randy, what happened onboard the plane, addressing accountability and making future airplane travel safer for her friends in NASCAR. Monday Diane and another Hendrick crash widow, Linda Turner, boarded a flight to Washington DC. Tuesday they'll hear what the NTSB says caused the crash. 6NEWS asked Hendrick Motorsports for their side of this story. They refused, saying they can't talk about a legal matter.(wncn.com)(2-7-2006)
- NTSB: Flight crew error led to Hendrick plane crash that killed ten: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has ruled that flight crew error is the probable cause of the plane crash near Martinsville than killed ten people in October 2004. The NTSB ruled today the crew failed to properly execute the published instrument approach procedure at Blue Ridge Airport [VA]. The Hendrick Motorsports plane crashed into the side of Bull Mountain in Patrick County after attempted a landing at the airport. All ten people aboard were killed, a loss felt across the entire NASCAR family. Investigators say navigational confusion involving the plane's GPS readings led the crew to approach the airport well above the typical altitude and descend to landing altitude almost seven miles past the airport. At that point, the plane began to climb, and had it turned to the right instead of remaining on a generally straight course, it still would have avoided Bull Mountain. Such a right turn is the standard missed approach procedure employed at the airport. The plane was attempting to bring members of the Hendrick family and company employees for that day's race at Martinsville Speedway.(wdbj7.com)(2-7-2006)
- Hendrick makes $3 million donation in Ricky's name: Carolinas Healthcare System announced the commitment of $3 million from the Rick and Linda Hendrick family to benefit Levine Children's Hospital. In recognition of the gift, Levine Children's Hospital will dedicate its Pediatric Intensive Care Centers in honor of the Hendrick's late son and youngest child, Ricky Hendrick. Encompassing the sixth floor of the new hospital, the Ricky Hendrick Centers for Intensive Care will house the facility's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and the region's first Pediatric Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. The Centers will feature a five-room sleep inn for parents, two private family waiting areas, a large open waiting space and a state-of-the-art business lounge. "Our family is proud to make this pledge in Ricky's name," said Linda Hendrick, Ricky's mother. "He was a young man who would run, not walk, to wherever he was going. This hospital will make certain that others have the same opportunity." Lauded by planners as the hospital's "heart and soul," the Centers will treat the most critically ill and injured children from across the region. Upon completion in summer 2007, the 234-bed facility will be the third-largest of its kind in the southeastern United States and the largest between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. "Our son placed a great importance on doing one's part to help others," said Ricky's father, Rick Hendrick, chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group and Hendrick Motorsports. "He had a passion for making a difference in people's lives, which is exactly what Levine Children's Hospital will do for families of this region."
Currently under construction on the campus of Carolinas Medical Center, Levine Children's Hospital will have the capacity to provide daily treatment to hundreds of patients from all walks of life. Its forward-thinking design will foster a warm and loving environment that is also state of the art. Levine Children's Hospital, already under construction on the campus of Carolinas Medical Center, will be dedicated solely to the needs of children and their families. Expanding upward to 12 stories, the new children's hospital will feature several of the region's "firsts," including a dedicated cardiac intensive care unit and a 24-hour pediatric emergency department.(Carolinas Healthcare System PR)(1-25-2006)
- Congrats: Multi-team [#5, #24, #25, #44, #48] team owner, Rick Hendrick welcomed new granddaughter, Josephine Riddick “Ricki” Hendrick, today [June 29th] at 2:49am/et. Ricki is the daughter of the late Ricky Hendrick, Rick's son, who passed away in the Hendrick Motorsports airplane crash near Martinsville, VA last Oct. Ricki and mother Emily are doing fine.(6-29-2005)
- Foundation pays fitting tribute to John Hendrick's memory: The Make-A-Wish Foundation presented Cathy Hendrick with a Chris Greicius Lifetime Giving Award in John Hendrick's name. Hendrick was killed, along with their twin daughers, in the crash of a Hendrick Motorsports team plane on Oct. 24. John Hendrick was nominated for the award late last summer, and in late September Selena Rogers, the president of the foundation's central and Western North Carolina chapter learned it had been awarded. About a week later, before the family ever knew about the honor, John was one of 10 people who died when a team plane crashed into a mountainside on the way to a race at Martinsville, Va. Rogers said she waited several months before telling Cathy Hendrick about the award, waiting for the right time. A few weeks ago, Rogers sent word to the family about the award and planning for Wednesday's luncheon began. When the time came for Cathy Hendrick to accept the award, she took her brother-in-law, Rick Hendrick, to the podium and let him do the talking. The Chris Greicius Award is named for the first child who inspired the Make-A-Wish program. Greicuis wanted to be a state trooper, so just before he died in 1985 some people made that happen for him for one day. After he was gone, they decided there must be other children with other wishes that could be granted. Cathy Hendrick said she tried to figure out what John would have done in accepting the award.
"He never would have come here to get this without having something to give back," she said. So after accepting the award, Cathy and Rick handed the Make-A-Wish folks a check for $100,000.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-2-2005)
- Hendrick honored: Car owner Rick Hendrick was honored by NASCAR drivers and officials Sunday afternoon, one day after he returned to the track for the first time since four family members and several employees were killed in a plane crash. NASCAR president Mike Helton stopped the pre-race meeting to welcome Hendrick, who received a standing ovation from drivers, pit crew members and others. "We love you, it's great to have you back," Helton said.(USA Today/AP)(11-22-2004)
- Hendrick at the track: mulit-team owner [#5,#24,#25,#48], Rick Hendrick, is at the track and made a statement today in the media center, thanking the racing community and fans for their support in the aftermath of the tragic plane crash. No questions were taken(11-20-2004)
RICK HENDRICK, OWNER OF HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, ADDRESSED THE MEDIA FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE TRAGIC PLANE CRASH IN OCTOBER:
"This is going to be kind of hard for me so I'm going to do the best I can. I'm really here today for two reasons. Obviously I want to thank everyone in the NASCAR community and the fans for the outpouring of love and support. A lot of you right here in this room have been friends for an awful long time. You support us and our organization and I appreciate it. NASCAR itself, from the France family providing airplanes and being at my home, to the drivers and owners. Ray Evernham and Richard Childress flew out teams. The Lowe's people picked up my family in different parts of the country. All of things that this community has done for our family have been unbelievable. Kyle Petty called me. We spent time together. He knows exactly what I'm going through. One of the things Kyle said that meant a lot to me was, 'You know there are 365 days in year and there are 38 checkered flags.' The rest of the time we're all together here in buses and planes and on pit road. You spend more time with these folks in this garage than you do your own family. When somebody hurts, everybody hurts. It's been very obvious to my family and to me that everybody has been hurting with us and have sure been there to support us."
"I want to thank the Patrick County volunteers up where the accident happened. There were volunteer firemen and volunteer rescue squad people that slept on that mountain to take care of our family and our people. Those people weren't getting paid. They just did an unbelievable job. Marshall, my son-in-law here, has been up there with our family. My family has been there twice. The land owner has been gracious to us as well as the state police and the medical examiner. A small church up there cleared out pews so they could feed the people at night. Motor Racing Outreach has been phenomenal. We don't know how fortunate we are to have those people with us because I can tell you if you don't have your faith, your family and your friends you sure can't make it through something like this. Everyone involved, the NTSB and the FAA, have been phenomenal. Everyone has had a heart and they want to help. When the medical examiners worked around the clock instead of going home - those people deserve a lot of thank you's from us.
"A lot of you I see in here are unbelievably good friends and a lot of you were at the services. I know you have questions and that's your job. I know you do. I want to answer them for you. I've never not done that. At the appropriate time I will answer anything you want. Hopefully we'll get that done by the media tour. I'll give you every bit of the opportunity to ask me anything you want."
"I'm really proud of our organization. If you look at this year, it's been one of the best and one of the worst at the same time. We've got 14 Cup wins and 5 Busch wins and 3 ARCA wins and 22 (total) wins with Kyle (Busch) as Rookie of the Year who finished second in the points and two guys going for championship tomorrow. I'm proud of the organization. I'm proud of those statistics but I'm more proud of the fact that these guys, Pat Perkins and the folks at Motorsports, not only took care of my family but the other families. We had people with them around the clock and are still with them and still taking care of them. We had a job to do and the organization had a job to do and they showed up at Atlanta. They raced and we were fortunate enough to win. Everybody in that organization, 450 strong, stepped up. It wasn't one. It wasn't two. It was 450 people that just really, really stepped up. Our guys are champions no matter what happens tomorrow because of what they've been through. They've had a tough time. I couldn't have done it.
"I don't know how Brain Vickers, as close as he and Ricky were, could get in a car. I don't know how Jeff or Jimmie could do what they've done, or the crew chiefs or the tire changers. I know Kyle Busch and Ricky were awfully tight. Some of you don't know that. He was his spotter, his owner, his big brother and his friend. That kid wanted to win those two races extremely bad. I apologize for him when he got out of the car if he didn't stop and answer questions. I know where his heart was. He's 19 years old. I'm awful proud of him. He's a good boy.
"I'm here really today to support my teams that have worked hard and they deserve this sport because we got a job to do and we're going to do it. I can answer one of the questions for you. What's going to happen at Hendrick Motorsports? Who's going to take the place of Ricky and John? Before that we lost my dad four months prior to this deal. How about Jeff Turner the general manager or Randy Dorton who has been with me 20 years and Joe Jackson who was one of my best friends from DuPont and Liz and Dick that were flying the plane? We had Scott Lathram with us. We're going to honor those people by going on. I can't replace my family and I can't replace people like Randy Dorton and Jeff Turner but what our company has always done is we're a strong group, a lot of people with back up that are committed. The way we close those holes is together each one of us picks up pieces. I wanted to be at Darlington. That was one of the worst weekends since the tragedy but this week I've gathered a lot of strength from my people."
"When I got back to Motorsports and I've been there this week, it was amazing to me (to realize) all of things that Randy was doing and Jeff was doing and Ricky was doing. Everybody had picked up a little piece of it. I can just tell you that I love this sport. My family loved the sport. That's all Jennifer and Kimberly who graduated from college wanted to do. That's what John wanted to do. It kept my dad alive until he was 84 years old going over there when races weren't on TV and my mother would watch old tapes of Riverside or whatever was going on. To honor all of those people on that plane, I'm more committed to this sport than I've ever been. I think I'm overweight but I'm healthier than I've been in the last eight years. Together we're going to continue to try to be a strong competitor and a good citizen of this sport. We love the sport and love the people. The folks on that plane will never be forgotten. But we have to go on.
"I'm going to be on the box with Kyle for this race today. I'll be with the teams tomorrow. I promise you that I'll available to answer any questions that you might have but I just want you to know that from a standpoint of Motorsports, people are already engaged and I don't think they've missed a beat. We'll not ever replace them but we're all going to pick up the pieces and we're doing that right now. Marshall started at Motorsports. He's my son-in-law. I don't call him my son-in-law. He's my son. He's been in the automotive group. Now he's back over there with me. Bobby Rice who some of you saw that's been with me 25 years was at the track. He couldn't be here today because he has a wedding." He's been engaged and I cannot tell you how proud - with this championship, winning it would be nice - but I'm so proud of what our people have done in the face of all of this to give me strength and give each other strength to go ahead. They stepped up and Scott Lathram's wife is here today and I'm going to meet her in a little bit. We've all kind of banned together. You don't think you can get through but again with faith, and friends and family you can do it. Thank you."(GM Racing Communications PR)(11-20-2004)
- Hendrick stops by shop: Hendrick Motorsports had a welcome visitor to its sprawling complex earlier this week. Owner Rick Hendrick, who lost his son, his brother, two nieces and two key employees in a plane crash two weeks ago, showed up at the team's race shop to meet with Hendrick employees. His wife Linda and his daughter Lynn also came to the shop to address Hendrick staffers.(NASCAR.com)(11-7-2004)
- NTSB.gov: Hendrick Plane Crash Preliminary Information Report
Experts: NTSB report suggests pilot error by Melissa Manware and Ames Alexander.(11-6-2004)
- Hendrick Motorsports update: Ken Howes, Hendrick Motorsports’ director of competition, played a major role in “talking the team through” the aftermath of the plane crash that killed seven employees of the team on Oct. 24. “He just took responsibility for taking us through that,” said Jimmie Johnson. A team spokesman, Patrick Perkins, said that Bobby Rice, a close business associate of Rick Hendrick, would oversee the operation for the time being while Hendrick recovers from the loss of his brother John, son Ricky and nieces Kymberly and Jennifer. Also lost in the crash were general manager Jeff Turner and head engine builder Randy Dorton. Jeff Gordon’s stepfather, John Bickford, will take on a more prominent role in the business side, and controller Scott Lampey will oversee financial operations. Jeff Andrews and Jim Wall will combine in directing the engine department.(Gaston Gazette)(10-30-2004)
- To view a transcipt of the Hendrick Motorsports Q&A that was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway - CLICK HERE.
- Blue wrist bands/bracelets...during the Hendrick Motorsports Press Conference on Friday, Oct 29th, Jeff Gordon mentioned a blue wrist band/bracelet the Hendrick teams are wearing. Randy Dorton was waering one when the plane went down, for more info or to order them, goto the link below or click on the band image.
Hendrick Motorsports - Life is a Team Sport wristbands page - click here
- Have not heard of any re-air of the Hendrick private family service that aired Thursday on Speed
or if the Hendrick Motorsports Q&A will be re-aired on Speed
- AMS Honor's Victims: There will be a moment of silence for the victims before both the Busch and Nextel Cup races on Saturday and Sunday, AMS communications manager Angela Revell said. Also, a black ribbon adorned with 10 stars has been painted on the infield grass, and the flags at the speedway are at half-staff.(Macon Telegraph)(10-29-2004)
- Hendrick Motorsports Q&A Friday: Hendrick Motorsports has scheduled a question-and-answer session in the Atlanta Motor Speedway media center for Friday, Oct. 29 at 12:00pm/et. Each Hendrick Motorsports driver and crew chief will be in attendance, as well as driver Tony Stewart. The press conference will be broadcast live by CNN and SPEED Channel.
Televised: As part of SPEED Channel's regularly scheduled NASCAR Live coverage, the network will offer viewers live coverage of Friday's Hendrick Motorsports question and answer session from Atlanta Motor Speedway. Scheduled to begin at noon ET, the session is expected to include the driver and crew chief from each Hendrick Motorsports team. Steve Byrnes and Bob Dillner will be on hand for SPEED Channel.(SC PR)(10-26-2004)
Radio Performance Racing Network will also be providing live radio coverage of the Hendrick Motorsports press conference from Atlanta Friday at noon.(10-28-2004)
The Internet: NASCAR.com will show the press conference on their site, click here for more info.(10-29-2004)
- HENDRICK SERVICE CANDLELIGHT CEREMONY:
In remembrance of the 10 individuals who lost their lives on Sunday, Hendrick Motorsports will hold a candlelight service Wednesday, Oct. 27 from 6:00-8:00pm/et. Open to the public, the ceremony will be held at the Hendrick Motorsports complex, located at 4400 Papa Joe Hendrick Blvd.,Charlotte, NC 28262. The program, led by members of Motor Racing Outreach (MRO), will include Robbie Loomis, crew chief of Hendrick's #24 Chevrolets. Courtesy of Lowe's Motor Speedway, parking for tonight's candlelight ceremony at Hendrick Motorsports will be available at LOT Z off Speedway Boulevard in Concord, N.C. Shuttles will transport people to and from the service.
Columns/Images/Video of the candlelight service at:
Jeff Gordon Online: Candlelight Vigil At Hendrick Motorsports with a video link
NASCAR.com' s Marty Smith: Tragedy affects even the happiest among us
Please note that Thursday's service for the Hendrick family is not open to the general public.
However....SPEED Channel will broadcast the closed circuit coverage of the Hendrick family memorial services tomorrow at 2:00pm/et. Out of respect for the families and those involved in the service, SPEED Channel will offer no commentary nor commercial interruption during the coverage.
Have not heard of any re-air of the Hendrick private family service that aired Thursday, Oct 28 on Speed.(10-28-2004)
Please visit www.HendrickMotorsports.com for updates on additional services.
The plane wreck initial reports/news and updates.......
- Hendrick Plane Goes Down; All Killed, including John and Ricky Hendrick: Just as the Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway ended, NBC coverage of the race announced there would be no victory lane celebration or interviews as a Hendrick Motorsports that was headed to Martinsville for the race was reported to be missing, NBC's Bill Weber interviewed NASCAR's Jim Hunter who said there were reports that the plain was missing and that the Hendrick Motorsports drivers were being taken to the NASCAR Hauler.
MORE: A Hendrick Motorsports plane carrying two pilots and eight other passengers crashed into Bull Mountain, about 10 miles west of Martinsville, Va., site of Sunday's Subway 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race, the FAA confirmed.
FAA spokeswoman Arlene Murray said a Beech 200 owned by Hendrick left Concord (N.C.) Regional Airport and crashed about 12:30 p.m. Eastern time Sunday, near Martinsville Speedway. There was no news as yet on injuries or fatalities, Murray said. HMS had four teams competing in Sunday's race with drivers #24-Jeff Gordon, #48-Jimmie Johnson, #5-Terry Labonte and #25-Brian Vickers.(ThatsRacin.com)
AND from the Martinsville Daily(the site is back up and updating accordingly):
Radio traffic indicates a plane crash occurred around 11:45am this morning in the Stuart, Patrick Springs, Bull Mountain area. Sketchy information at this hour indicates the plane was headed to the Blue Ridge Airport in Spencer and with six occupants including the pilot. Helicopters are now flying over the area trying to find the downed aircraft. We have just learned one of the racing team helicopters has now joined in the search.
Update 1 - 2:51pm: A helicopter has located the signal of the emergency locating transmitter of the downed aircraft, but due to extreme fog, they are unable to see the plane.
Update 2 - 2:52pm: State Police have determined the coordinates and are dispatching four-wheelers to the scene.
Update 3 - 2:53pm: A break in the fog has allowed the helicopter crew to get a visual on the crash scene. They report "there does not appear to be any survivors."
Update 4 - 3:30pm: Unconfirmed... the plane is alleged to be owned by Hendrick Motorsports and was headed to Martinsville for today's race.
Update 5 - 3:40pm: Fire and rescue have been advised to seal the entire area off to all media.
Update 6 - 5:13pm: The FFA and the NTSB has confirmed the downed plane was owned by Hendrick Motorsports and took off from Concord, NC. Officials have confirmed everyone onboard was killed, but no names have been released.(Martinsville Daily)
FROM NBC 6 NBC 6 News TV out of Charlotte, NC reported live at 5:20pm/et that John Hendrick, Ricky Hendrick and chief engine builder Randy Dorton were on the airplane.
From NBC 6 Site: A Hendrick Motorsports plane headed to the Subway 500 in Martinsville, Virginia, has crashed in the Bull Mountain area of Virginia, state police there confirm. “The plane was en route to Martinsville and lost it on radar and that’s all the information we have,” said one NASCAR official. “We’ve been in contact with Rick Hendrick…we just don’t have a lot of details at the moment…we are going to say a prayer for everyone in the Hendick organization." Several high-placed sources inside NASCAR confirm these passengers on the plane: Tony Stewart’s helicopter pilot (who was not piloting the plane), two people who were piloting the plane, John Hendrick (Rick Hendrick’s brother), Ricky Hendrick (Rick Hendrick’s son), Randy Dorton and his two daughters. The FAA and NTSB are investigating. Bull Mountain lies to the west of Martinsville in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
In an update on their site, the following names are listed: Ricky Hendrick, John Hendrick, Kimberley Hendrick, Jennifer Hendrick, Dick Tracy (pilot), Joe Jackson, Liz Morrison (pilot), Jeff Turner, Randy Dorton and Scott Lathum. John Hendrick is team owner Rick Hendrick's brother, while Ricky Hendrick is his son. Randy Dorton is an engine builder for the company.(NBC6.com)
TRAGIC NEWS: The son of NASCAR owner Rick Hendrick was among 10 people killed Sunday when a small plane headed from Concord to Martinsville crashed in Patrick County in Virginia. Ricky Hendrick, a former NASCAR driver, died in the incident. John Hendrick, Rick's brother, and Kimberly and Jennifer Hendrick, John's twin daughters, also died in the crash. The plane, which belonged to Hendrick Motorsports, was en route to Martinsville Speedway for Sunday's Subway 500. Jimmie Johnson was driving the Hendrick car in the race and was the winner. The plane reportedly lost contact with the Federal Aviation Administration at about 12:30 p.m. It crashed in the Blue Ridge Mountains about seven miles from Martinsville, Va., according to the N.C. Highway Patrol. The names of the other people who died in the crash are: Dick Tracy, pilot, Liz Morrison, pilot, Joe Jackson, Jeff Turner, the VP and General Manager of Hendrick Motorsports, Randy Dorton and Scott Latham.(wxii12.com)
the FAA issued the following statement: "The FAA confirms everyone on board was killed. The list of passengers is as follows: Ricky Hendrick, John Hendrick, Kimberley Hendrick, Jennifer Hendrick, Dick Tracey, Joe Jackson, Liz Morrison, Jeff Turner, Randy Dorton, and Scott Lathum."
John Hendrick was team owner Rick Hendrick's brother
Ricky Hendrick was Rick Hendrick's son
Kimberly Hendrick and Jennifer Hendrick were John's twin daughters
Dick Tracy and Liz Morrison were the pilots [worked for HMS]
Jeff Turner was the VP and General Manager of Hendrick Motorsports
Randy Dorton was the chief engine builder for the company
Scott Lathum was Tony Stewart's pilot
Joe Jackson was an executive with DuPont, sponsor of Jeff Gordon's team
Bull Mountain has limited accessibility and is noted as having some of the roughest terrain in the area. Investigators will arrive tonight, but will not begin their search for the bodies until sometime Monday.(Wire Reports)
From the NBC6.com site: About the victims.(10-24-2004)
- Deputies barricaded the entrance to the Hendrick shop in Charlotte, allowing only team employees to enter the compound. Twenty or so people could be seen in the parking lot inside. A small bouquet of flowers had been placed at the entrance gate.(AP)(10-25-2004)
- Mid-Monday Update: Rescue workers today recovered the bodies of 10 people killed when a Hendrick Motorsports team plane crashed in Patrick County yesterday, killing everyone aboard. A state trooper said the bodies had been recovered and brought back down Bull Mountain from the remote crash site. Investigators and rescue workers worked under bright, sunny conditions, in contrast to the foggy skies overhead when the Beech 200 crashed. Brian Rayner, an air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said investigators were aware of the foggy conditions at the time of the wreck, but also were looking at other possible causes. "The most difficult part of this job is to maintain an objective view and do nothing but gather data," Rayner said. Debris was scattered over a path that stretched 200 yards, officials said. Workers had to use ATVs to go up and down the mountain site, which is about a mile and a half from the nearest road. The state Department of Forestry was also on hand, trying to clear a road into the area.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(10-25-2004)
- Sabates almost on the Hendrick flight: With his helicopter grounded by bad weather, Felix Sabates, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing, decided he did not want to take the chance of having the plane diverted and then having to drive to the Martinsville, Va., track in race traffic. Sabates said his helicopter pilot called to say he could have a seat on the plane and he was preparing to leave for the Concord, N.C., airport when Ganassi phoned. Ganassi told Sabates his plane had been diverted from the airport near the track to Danville, Va., 30 miles away. ''Chip said his plane missed its approach in Martinsville because of the weather and he was thinking about going home,'' Sabates said. ''I didn't feel like going to Danville and then having to drive to the track in traffic. If Chip hadn't called me, I would have been on that plane. He saved my life.'' After deciding to pass up the race, Sabates was at his home in Charlotte when he got a telephone call from NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr., telling him the plane was missing and asking Sabates to go to the home of fellow team owner Rick Hendrick. ''When I got to the house, I'm the one that told Rick about the accident,'' Sabates said. ''Then Bill France called to tell me that they had found the wreckage and everybody was dead. I still get chills thinking about it. It's just horrible for everyone.''(USA Today/Associated Press)(10-26-2004)
- UPDATE from :
Two days after a Hendrick Motorsports airplane crashed on its way to a race here, killing all 10 members aboard the corporate plane, investigators, airport officials, pilots and aviation experts are still trying to determine what happened. Although the day was foggy, they don't know why the plane missed its landing, why it didn't follow landing procedures for the airport, nor why it plowed into the sole obstacle in the area - Bull Mountain, a 3,211 foot high peak within 10 miles of the runway. "Why they didn't land I don't know. And I don't think anyone else knows either," said Tommy Grimes, the general manager of the Blue Ridge Airport where the plane tried to land. "In my mind, I prefer to think the crew did not make a mistake, that something else went wrong." Federal investigators are still studying the crash site and have tentative plans to remove the plane wreckage today. But it's still far too early for investigators to say what might have caused the crash, said Brian Rayner, the lead investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board. He said he expects the investigation to take "several months."
On Tuesday, investigators spent the day clearing trees and debris away from the crash site, a heavily wooded area near the crest of a ridge, in preparation for the removal. Reporters were not allowed near the crash site, a mile and a half from Bull Mountain Road. But the whine of chainsaws could be heard from the ridge above.
And those at the airport here are piecing together what they know. On Sunday, the Hendrick plane was using what's called a localizer, a radio beacon at the northwestern end of the runway to line it up with the runway, Blue Ridge Airport officials said. The radio beacon only helps the pilot position the plane on a horizontal axis, from left to right. The pilot uses its altimeter on the plane to determine its height. The airport - like countless others its size - does not have an air traffic control tower and uses a non-precision instrument landing system, said Seth Young, an associate professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. That means to touch down safely a King Air pilot needed to see the 5,001-foot runway from at least 400 feet above the ground depending on their own equipment, Young said. Air traffic controllers in Greensboro were guiding the plane into the airport.
As was typical for the airport, the race brought more than the normal traffic. At least three other planes were also trying to land at the same time as the Hendrick plane, Grimes, said. They were waiting in a holding pattern nearby for clearance to land because the race was about to start. The weather had dissuaded at least 27 other planes headed for the airport to fly either to the Danville Regional Airport or to Greensboro, officials at those airports said. But the weather wasn't bad enough to shut down the airport. Though the sky was clouded, the ceiling cover was 600 feet from the ground and visibility extended seven miles to either side. That was well above what the federal requirements of a 400 foot ceiling and one mile horizontal visibility to make the landing there, according to U.S. Terminal Procedures, an FAA handbook for pilots. The Hendrick plane should have been able to break through the clouds, spot the runway and then notify air traffic control, Young said. At that point, he said, the pilot would begin communicating with other pilots in the area on a local radio frequency.
But Grimes, standing at the airport Sunday afternoon, never saw the plane break through the cloud ceiling. "He flew right down the middle of the runway," Grimes said. "He was just not low enough to land. He didn't have visual contact with the runway because we couldn't see him. We could just hear him." There were no distress calls to the Greensboro air traffic controllers guiding the flight, NTSB investigators said on Tuesday. The Beech King Air 200 did not have cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorder or recording what happened next, according to the NTSB. The plane also lacked a ground positioning warning system that could have helped warn the pilots about the mountain they faced in front of them. It didn't come with one when it was built in 1981 by Raytheon Aircraft, the manufacturer said. And NTSB officials confirmed it hadn't been retrofitted to have the device. It's not currently required on planes of that size. However the FAA plans to require the devices on such plans starting in March.
Many planes lack the devices, though. A commuter plane that crashed on Oct. 19 in northeastern Missouri, killing 13 of its 15 passengers, also didn't have an updated version of the device. Neither FAA, nor NTSB officials said they were ready to make any comparisons to the Missouri crash Tuesday. Even without the equipment, the plane had a procedure to follow after missing the landing.
After missing the runway on Sunday, the plane should have turned sharply to the right, and climbed back up to 2,600 feet above sea level to either try again or head to another airport. Instead the plane ended up about seven miles straight ahead of the runway. It's unclear at what elevation it hit the mountainside. "He should have been turning around and going in the opposite direction," Grimes said. "We don't know what Geensboro told him to do. Or what was going on in the plane." Pilots and traffic controllers can deviate from the federal landing procedures and it's ultimately up to the pilots to make a decision on the landing, Young said.
The two pilots had all the training they needed to fly the plane, FAA records show. Tracy had no records of accidents, disciplines or incidents, the FAA said. Morrison was cited by the FAA in 1999 for a hard landing at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, records show. The landing, after a traffic reporting flight, broke the airplane's front landing gear, an FAA document said. But she was not disciplined. A few minutes after the aborted approach, air traffic control in Greensboro called the Blue Ridge Airport asking if plane had arrived, Grimes said. He told them it hadn't. The National Transportation Safety Board soon will begin airlifting the wreckage of Hendrick Motorsports' airplane from the Virginia mountainside to a recovery site in Delaware, said Rayner, the chief NTSB investigator of the crash said Tuesday. There, investigators will try to piece together the wreckage and examine both propeller systems to try to determine why the plane crashed. The agency also plans to ship what remains of the two turboprop engines to their manufacturer in Canada, he said.
The removal of the wreckage could begin as early as Wednesday and probably will be done by helicopter, Rayner said, because the plane crashed on the mountain's steep southeastern slope, and investigators have been able to reach the crash site only by all-terrain vehicle. Rayner said he doesn't know why the pilots didn't follow the government-approved procedure for a missed landing at Blue Ridge Airport. "At this point, there's no way of knowing what the intention of the crew was at the time," Rayner said. "We're not trying to place any significance on that at the moment." At the Blue Ridge Airport on Tuesday, pilots who fly in and out of the airport questioned what could have gone wrong. "If you fly by the procedures, it's extremely safe," said Matt Broughton, a Roanoke attorney who has been flying for 19 years. Grimes, too, said he was looking for a reason as to why the plane crashed into the mountain. "I think all of us who fly instruments are looking for a reason why," he said. "If you look, this (mountain) is the only point on the chart marked as dangerous. It's the highest point out there."(ThatsRacin.com)(10-27-2004)
- Tuesday Update from the Martinsville Daily 10-26-2004: Investigators reconstructing crash
A seven-person "Go" team with the National Transportation Safety Board spent most of Monday on Bull Mountain's steep, wooded slope, trying to reconstruct the fatal crash. The plane apparently barreled horizontally about 100 feet through trees, leaving a crater where it struck the mountain. The plane's wreckage scattered up the steep slope for about 100 feet and caught fire. Investigators still don't know the cause of the crash. The investigation will resume this morning. The plane did not have a ground proximity system, a flight date recorder or a cockpit voice recorder. Despite heavy fog and low-lying clouds, which made visibility poor when the crash occurred, officials are saying it would be premature to assume that weather caused the accident. The Federal Aviation Administration's lowest permitted ceiling, or the distance from the ground to the clouds at the Blue Ridge airport, is between 400 and 500 feet, depending on which approach a pilot takes. According to the National Weather Service, the ceiling at the airport was 600 feet at about the time of the crash. Visibility at the airport was five miles; the minimum visibility required for a safe landing at Blue Ridge is between 1 and 1 3/4 miles, depending on the type of aircraft. Between 30 and 40 other private airplanes had already made the landing for Sunday's race when the crash occurred.(Martinsville Daily)(10-27-2004)
- Wednesday Update
Plane crash wreckage to be moved: Federal investigators are preparing to remove the wreckage of the Hendrick Motorsports plane from the side of Bull Mountain. Yesterday, investigators returned to Patrick County for a second day to document the crash site. They recovered an instrument panel that could provide some useful information, and they are now expecting an aircraft recovery team that will begin removing pieces of the plane so they can be taken to a Delaware facility for further analysis. Officials say the challenging terrain means they'll probably use a helicopter to remove the plane from the mountainside.
New information in investigation: There is now new information in the plane crash investigation. They are back to looking at the weather the day of the crash. 20 other pilots decided that the fog was too thick to land at Blue Ridge Airport near Martinsville on Sunday so they touched down elsewhere. The Hendrick plane was attempting to land at Blue Ridge but veered off course and smashed into Bull Mountain. Federal investigators point out that weather was definitely a factor, but in the days ahead they will turn their attention to the wreckage itself before making a final ruling.(Martinsville Daily)(10-28-2004)
- Investigation wraps up at crash site
Federal investigators at the site of the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash prepared Wednesday to leave the scene with the remnants of the plane now bound for Delaware. "We're almost to the point where we're done documenting the wreckage," said Brian Rayner, the National Transportation Safety Board's chief investigator at the scene. Investigators were concentrating on documenting the pieces in the position where they were found - so they can reconstruct the wreck at a testing facility - and preserving the condition of the engines, Rayner said. The NTSB has been at the site since Sunday, when the Hendrick plane flew into a mountain near Martinsville, Va., where the 10 people on board planned to attend a NASCAR race. All 10 were killed. The agency has hired Anglin Aircraft Recovery Services of Clayton, Del., to airlift the wreckage off the mountain and to its headquarters, but rain Wednesday morning prevented helicopters from taking off. The investigators also were looking at the plane's data logbooks and pilot training records. "They're back at the hotel poring over those as we speak," Rayner said Wednesday morning. All equipment at Blue Ridge Airport has been inspected by the FAA, Rayner said, and "meets all the requirements they're supposed to meet."(ThatsRacin.com)(10-28-2004)
- The Public Service at Hendrick Motorsports on Wed, Oct 27th: Wearing jackets and shirts boasting the logos of Chevrolet, DuPont, Ditech and GMAC, the crowd of about 300 people clustered around the black and white checkered circle in front of the Hendrick museum at the company's racing complex near Lowe's Motor Speedway. A large poster of the 10 victims stood before them amid a bank of more than 40 floral arrangements.(see full story and an image at ThatsRacin.com and at FoxSports/AP)(10-28-2004)
- Bickford could had been on the Hendrick Plane too: If not for a lingering cold, John Bickford, Jeff Gordon's stepfather, might have been on the ill-fated Hendrick Motorsports plane Sunday that crashed near Martinsville, Va., killing all 10 passengers. In an interview Thursday, Bickford, Gordon's business manager, was talking about some of the benefits of working in the Hendrick complex. His office is in the building that houses Gordon's race team, which is owned by Rick Hendrick. "I get to a few more races [now]," Bickford said. "I get to ride on the Hendrick team plane. I have a little easier access to the races. When his mom and I would want to go [in years past] we'd have to buy airplane tickets or drive; it's a little bit more money than we could afford to spend every weekend. "So by being a part of the Hendrick organization, there's a seat there that I can jump in and a lot of times I get to go in on Sunday morning. I can fly in on Sunday morning and watch the race and say hi to Jeff and be there to support him. I think there's a certain comfort level that he has knowing that the people that he's close to are close by." On Sunday, Bickford was feeling poorly and stayed home to watch the race on TV.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(10-28-2004)
- Websites with Info on the crash and investigation: