BONNER COUNTY, IDAHO– The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has moved the wreckage of the Cessna 182P that went down on a mountain top in northern Idaho last week, killing locally renowned Mohave Valley pilot and businesswoman Tookie Hensley and her husband, Don.
What remains of the aircraft has been sent to an undisclosed location so that federal investigators can examine the aircraft in their ongoing effort to determine what caused the Oct. 8 plane crash.
While the cause of the crash remains under investigation, the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office is still working to provide some sense of closure for the families of those that perished. The remains of the deceased were turned over to the coroner’s office and are being examined.
Investigators with the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office were at the site when the wreckage was removed from the mountain top. A sheriff’s office spokesperson said, the investigators were able to thoroughly examine the areas underneath the heavy wreckage and obtained additional evidence before and after the aircraft was removed.
“Our ultimate goal is to provide as much information and closure for the families as possible,” said Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler.
The aircraft went down near the ridgeline of the Round Top Mountain at an elevation of 5.226 feet, about 3.5 miles northeast of the city of Hope, on Oct. 8 shortly after 8 a.m. The flight had originated from an airstrip at the Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center in Sagle, Idaho and was en route to North Dakota and then onto Maine, where the three were suppose to enjoy a lobster dinner in the ocean-side village of Bar Harbor. They were then expected to fly down the eastern seaboard with a final destination in Florida.
According to the NTSB preliminary report, the airplane first impacted numerous tree tops then collided with the terrain about 156 feet after making contact with the trees. A post-crash fire destroyed the airplane cabin and claimed the lives of the three people onboard.
Investigators have learned the trio had intended to leave Idaho on Oct. 7, but their departure was delayed due to poor weather conditions. The following day, Don Hensley reportedly told a ranch foreman in Sagle that they were heading to Minot, ND, but because of the weather they were probably going to take a southerly path to avoid the weather as best they could. The foreman also stated that he fueled the airplane to its maximum capacity two days earlier.
Flying across the country in small aircraft is nothing new for the Hensleys or Bird. They routinely participated in cross-country aviation competitions.
Tookie Hensley was the proprietor of Tookie’s Flying Service, at Eagle Airport in Mohave Valley, which offered, among other things, flying lessons for those seeking their pilots license.