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On January 27, 2001, about 1737 mountain standard time, a Raytheon (Beechcraft) Super King Air 200, N81PF, owned by North Bay Charter, LLC, and operated by Jet Express Services, crashed into rolling terrain near Strasburg, Colorado. The flight was operating on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan under 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The flight departed about 1718 from Jefferson County Airport (BJC), Broomfield, Colorado, with two pilots and eight passengers aboard. The
pilot who occupied the left seat in the cockpit was solely responsible for the flight. The pilot who occupied the right seat in the cockpit, referred to in this report as the "second pilot," was not a required flight crewmember. N81PF was one of three airplanes transporting members of the Oklahoma State University (OSU) basketball team and associated team personnel to Stillwater Regional Airport (SWO), Stillwater, Oklahoma, after a game at the University of Colorado at Boulder that afternoon. All 10 occupants aboard N81PF were killed, and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a
postcrash fire. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed at the time of the accident.
On the day before the accident, the pilots departed Wiley Post Airport (PWA), near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for a positioning flight to SWO. At SWO, members of the OSU basketball team and associated team personnel boarded the airplane, which then continued to BJC. According to ATC records, N81PF made its first radio contact with the Kansas City ARTCC about 1449 (1549 central standard time) and its last radio contact with the Denver Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) about 1652. Records from Stevens Aviation, a fixed-base operator at BJC, indicated that the airplane landed at 1700 and was placed in a hangar overnight.
ATC records indicated that the pilot contacted the Denver Automated Flight Service Station about 1100 on the day of the accident to obtain a weather briefing and file IFR flight plans for the return trips to SWO and PWA. The weather briefing included a general synopsis of the weather situation for the proposed flights, AIRMET [airmen’s meteorological information] flight advisories for occasional moderate icing and occasional moderate turbulence, forecast airport conditions, winds and temperatures aloft, and notices to airmen in effect. A Stevens Aviation ramp worker at BJC stated that the airplane was pulled outside from its overnight hangar between 1115 and 1130 on the day of the accident. The ramp worker also stated that the pilots arrived at the airport sometime after 1300. The pilot requested that the airplane be returned to a hangar until after the passengers boarded. According to the ramp worker, the airplane was subsequently returned to another hangar. The pilots left the airport to attend at least the first half of the basketball game, which began at 1400.
According to ATC records, the pilot contacted BJC ground control about 1631 to obtain an IFR clearance to SWO, and the ground controller issued the clearance as filed. The Stevens Aviation ramp worker indicated that the passengers arrived at BJC at 1700. After the passengers boarded the airplane, it was towed from the hangar. About 1712, the pilot contacted ground control to request taxi instructions, indicating that he had received automatic terminal information service (ATIS) information Quebec. Because ATIS information Romeo was current at the time, the ground controller issued the new weather information along with the taxi clearance to runway 29R.
About 1717:15, the pilot of N81PF reported that the airplane was ready to depart from runway 29R. The ground controller instructed the pilot to hold short of the runway while awaiting an IFR release. The ground controller then contacted the Denver TRACON for an IFR release, which was issued about 1717:38. The BJC local controller cleared N81PF for takeoff about 1717:49 and instructed the airplane to turn right to a 040º heading. About 1719:47, the local controller instructed the pilot to contact the Denver TRACON.
About 1719:55, the pilot contacted the Denver Departure Radar Four position and reported that he was climbing through 6,500 feet to 8,000 feet. Afterward, the departure controller issued a clearance for the airplane to climb to 12,000 feet and then instructed the pilot to fly the airplane on a 060º heading. About 1722:09, the controller instructed the pilot to proceed to the EPKEE intersection, join the Garden City transition, and climb to 23,000 feet. The pilot acknowledged these instructions.
About 1724:07, the departure controller instructed the pilot to fly the airplane on a 110º heading, and the pilot acknowledged this instruction. About 1725:53, the controller instructed the pilot to contact the Satellite Radar Two controller. The pilot contacted the Satellite Radar Two controller about 1726:06, reporting out of 16,300 feet and climbing to 23,000 feet. The controller asked the pilot whether he was flying directly to the EPKEE intersection, and the pilot responded that he had been proceeding to the intersection but had been assigned a heading of 110º. About 1726:20, the controller cleared the airplane to proceed directly to the EPKEE intersection. About 1726:27, the pilot stated that he was going directly to the EPKEE intersection and that he needed to make about a 3º left turn. The controller did not receive any further transmissions from the pilot.
Mode C information from the airplane’s transponder indicated that the airplane reached its cruising altitude of 23,000 feet about 1732:35. According to ATC radar data, the airplane’s climb through this altitude was normal, and its airspeeds had been steady. The last mode C transponder return occurred about 1735:44, when the airplane was at an altitude of 23,200 feet. Radar data indicated that the airplane started to deviate from its heading and to turn to the right by about 1736:26 (about 42 seconds after mode C information was lost).
Mode A information from the transponder remained available until about 1737:12. Within the next 5 to 8 seconds (sometime between 1737:17 and 1737:20), the airplane impacted rolling terrain at an elevation of 5,223 feet. The accident occurred at 39º 44.822 minutes north latitude and 104º 15.037 minutes west longitude after official sunset but before the end of evening civil twilight. Figure 1 shows the airplane’s flight track, according to ATC radar data, for the last 2 minutes of the accident flight.