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RIVERSIDE: Couple’s plane hit trees before crashing into Idaho mountain

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RIVERSIDE: Couple’s plane hit trees before crashing into Idaho mountain


Tookie and Don Hensley pose before an air race in 2012. The Hensleys and pilot Pam Bird were killed in a plane crash on Oct. 8 in Idaho.


The plane carrying a former Riverside couple struck tree tops before crashing into an Idaho mountain and catching fire on Oct. 8, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report Wednesday, Oct. 14.

Don Hensley, 84, Tookie Hensley, 80, and pilot Pam Bird, 58, died in the crash. Don Hensley’s body was not recovered until Tuesday afternoon, said his daughter, Pam Seinturier.

The Cessna 182 was registered to Bird.

The Hensleys, graduates of Riverside Poly High, lived in Riverside for decades before moving to Arizona, where they operated a flying school.� Don Hensley also flew entertainers to and from Las Vegas.

Tookie Hensley competed in air races. In 2002,teaming with Anne Honer, she won the Air Race Classic, a four-day, cross-country event that is the largest and longest-running air race for women.

The Bonner County sheriff received a report of an emergency locator transmitter ping at 8:26 a.m. on Oct. 8, the NTSB said.

Family members said the trio was traveling to Minot, N.D., before heading to Maine and Florida.

The wreckage was found below a ridgeline saddle at elevation 5,226 feet about 3.5 miles northwest of Hope, Idaho. The fire destroyed the plane. The trio had planned to fly Wednesday, but their departure was delayed because of poor weather conditions, the NTSB said.

Just before the plane departed Thursday, Don Hensley told a ranch foreman that they were going to take a southern route to North Dakota because of the weather conditions. The ranch foreman said he filled the fuel tank to capacity.

The morning of the flight, an automated weather observation system reported calm wind, an overcast layer at 2,800 feet and visibility of 10 miles, the NTSB said.

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