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» Smilin' Jack   » Specific Airline Discussions   » TWA   » Russ Hazelton killed in STL plane crash

Author Topic: Russ Hazelton killed in STL plane crash
Post Captain
Member # 54

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This is the complete text of morning news report...

UDPATED at 9:30 a.m. Thursday with pilot's death, other details

MARYLAND HEIGHTS • The pilot of a small plane died overnight after a small plane crashed into Creve Coeur Lake and then flipped on its back, police said today.

The only passenger was the pilot's wife; she was hospitalized and on life support Thursday, authorities said.

The crash happened about 8:40 p.m. Wednesday.

Russell Hazelton, 78, was the pilot. He died at DePaul Health Center in Bridgeton, said Maj. Bill Carson of the Maryland Heights Police Department. His wife was the only passenger. Suzanne Hazelton, 69, is on life support.

The Piper PA-28 Cherokee single-engine plane is registered with the Federal Aviation Administration to Hazleton, of Factoryville, Pa.

FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said the plane had left Delaware, Ohio, and was scheduled to land at Creve Coeur Airport.

The first call about the crash came into Maryland Heights police at 8:40 p.m. Police and rescue workers were at the scene within minutes.

Dozens of emergency responders and vehicles, including a police helicopter shining a spotlight on the lake, were at the scene within an hour.

Members of the Lake Saint Louis Fire Protection District dive team waited on shore in case they were needed to recover bodies from the water. A hazmat team was also called to the site to respond to a fuel leak from the plane.

Police said a flight plan filed for the plane with the FAA listed only two people on board, but as a precaution, officials used sonar equipment to search the lake for others.

A witness told officials that the plane’s engine sounded as if it was sputtering as the Piper circled the lake. Despite an attempt to land on shore, the witness told police, the pilot set down on the water and the aircraft flipped.

The plane remained upside-down in waist-deep water in the eastern part of the lake hours after the crash.

Investigators from the FAA will be on the scene Thursday. Tony Molinaro, a spokesman for the FAA, said since one of the victims died overnight, the National Transportation Safety Board will take over the investigation, Molinaro said. It will be the only agency authorized to discuss the investigation.

The plane's tail number was N55620.

Cory said the FAA's probe could take several months as investigators talk with witnesses, pull radar records, and check the plane's history and pilot's training, among other details.

The crash scene is not far from the small Creve Coeur Airport. Both the airport and the lake are in Maryland Heights.

Tim Townsend and Kim Bell of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

Posts: 54 | From: saint charles,mo,usa  |  IP: Logged
Post Captain
Member # 1481

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[Frown] Aloha!
Very sad to read this news about Russ.

We agents in HNL used to go outside when we knew he was bringing in flight 1 from STL. His soft field landings were a sight to see. That 747 glided down the runway like a graceful bird. I can still see the beauty of his landings.

Even our contract services mechanics that were handled by Aloha Airlines would stop and watch!

He was friendly and warm and always greeted us with a smile.

May his soul rest in peace and our prayers go out to his wife.


Posts: 190 | From: Laughlin/Bullhead City/Honolulu  |  IP: Logged
Bob Ritchie
Post Captain
Member # 1035

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Medical Class: Third, Medical Date: 7/2011




Date of Issue: 3/10/2010










Type Ratings:






















Posts: 1936 | From: Warren County, Missouri  |  IP: Logged
Robert Dedman
Post Captain
Member # 366

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Another of our finest has left us. Great man and a gentleman. Rest in peace my friend.
Posts: 406 | From: Virginia Beach, VA.  |  IP: Logged
Roger Moore
Post Captain
Member # 2204

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Only flew one trip with Russ I was a brand new 727 F/O out of LGA when this took place. I enjoyed the trip and must have impressed Russ as he never forgot me. Roger Moore
Posts: 194 | From: Wildwood,Mo  |  IP: Logged
Post Captain
Member # 722

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Posts: 1634 | From: Hampton, NH  |  IP: Logged
dave carr
Post Captain
Member # 783

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What a terrible loss. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to his wife as she attempts recover.

Forgive me for thinking out loud at this time but this accident leads to so many questions. Russ was without doubt a very experienced and competent aviator. He appears to have landed in the lake with the aircraft under control. If I see correctly even the flaps appear to have been lowered. It certainly doesn't seem that he would have been incapacitated. It's dark out there at night but he was less than a mile from a 4,000 ft. runway with lights available and less than seven miles from Spirit.

I have the idea that he was on a VFR flight plan. Could he have been receiving flight following so as to have easy transit through STL airspace while maintaining altitude? Many experienced pilots when flying VFR at night will use ATC assistance as an added safety advantage. If he was low on fuel or with a rough running engine I can't believe that he wouldn't have communicated his predicament and made an effort to immediately land at Spirit or CC 16/34. He certainly knew his way around STL airspace.

Knowing his incredible experience level there must have been a series of dominoes that fell causing this result. Could he have become incapacitated and his wife was attempting to just get it on the ground? I'm afraid that the NTSB is going to have a real challenge with this investigation.

On a personal level I couldn't help but notice that Russ and I have something in common. We both flew as TWA Captains on the exact same jet equipment. We both flew every jet ever operated in passenger service except the C-880. There the comparison ends. Did he ever do some round engine flying!! What a flying career!!

Dave Carr

[ 10-27-2012, 12:59: Message edited by: dave carr ]

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The Big Boss
Member # 7

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My name is Happy Hazelton Daily (message is being sent from my husband's account). I found on the Internet, several pilot posts regarding my father, retired twa captain who was In a fatal plane crash. Is there a way I can log on so that if pilots want to contact us, they can? My email address is or my call is 617-549-9683. Thanks.


Sent from my iPad

Posts: 755 | From: Rancho Mirage, Ca.  |  IP: Logged
Post Captain
Member # 202

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Just saw on the Internet that Suzanne Hazelton passed away Monday at 5:30 pm.RIP

[ 10-30-2012, 12:10: Message edited by: DC9 ]

Posts: 378 | From: savannah,ga.usa  |  IP: Logged
Post Captain
Member # 1481

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I sent a condolence message to Happy Hazelton and I would like to share her reply.

~ "Benay,

I can't tell you how great it was to receive your email. I have been in touch with several of mom's friends as I knew her gmail password. Unfortunately, I didn't know my Dad's and I have had no way to reach out to them. I am sending you a link to a webpage my husband set up for my parents. Please feel free to distribute.

Unfortunately my mom passed away yesterday. She loved Hawaii, so please at some time float two lays (I'm sure I spelled this wrong!) for them.

I can't wait to forward your email to my husband. I always said my dad could put a 747 plane down without the passengers knowing he had landed. He thought it was just daughterly pride!" ~

So very sad news [Frown]

Posts: 190 | From: Laughlin/Bullhead City/Honolulu  |  IP: Logged

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