San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Iowa Couple Crashed Three Miles Off Course

Further investigation into the Jan. 15 plane crash that took the lives of a U.S. couple from Iowa found that the pilot,C onrad Wes Randell,69,was three miles off course when he struck a foothill of Irazú Volcano,east of San José,in the province of Cartago,the daily La Nación reported.

Randell,ha ving hit bad weather in Costa Rica after taking off from Panama,apparently changed course and was attempting to fly by sight,r ather than by his instrument readings,and crashed after making a 90-degree turn,the daily reported.

Investigations at the site of the accident have discarded the possibility that a mechanical failure contributed to the accident.

However,the failure of the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) a small device set to release a signal in case of an accident so the plane can be found continues to baffle investigators,as it was connected to the battery,was good through 2008 and was in a part of the plane that was relatively undamaged,the daily said. The ELT will now be sent to the United States for further investigation.

Randell and his wife,N ancy Randell,68, were flying Randell s single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza airplane through Central America as part of a tour with the pilot s association Baja Bush Pilots. The plane lost radio contact at approximately 10 a.m. on Jan. 15,and minutes later a farmer in the vicinity of Irazú Volcano reported hearing the sound of a lowflying plane followed by en explosion or crash (TT,J an. 20).

Officials and volunteers searched the foothills and the volcano amidst cold and rainy conditions that often impeded the search until Tuesday,when the plane and the couple was discovered.


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