Wreckage Monday after plunging down an embankment and erupting into flames after a takeoff attempt at Hanscom Field on Saturday. Lewis Katz, co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, and six other people died in the crash. / Mark Garfinkel AP
Federal investigators found the voice and data recorders Monday from the private jet that crashed and burned this past weekend at an airport near Boston, killing the co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, but the hunt for the cause of the accident continues.
Luke Schiada, a senior air-traffic investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said the wreckage is in a water-filled gulley, which made it difficult to find the cockpit-voice recorder and flight-data recorder.
But investigators announced about 6:20 p.m. Monday that they found both recorders, which are crucial because they will contain information about how the plane was performing and what the pilots were saying before the crash.
In addition, several surveillance cameras are located around Hanscom Field, about 20 miles northeast of Boston, where the Gulfstream IV crashed off the end of the runway. Investigators have viewed several of the recordings, but not all of them.
"I have not seen any surveillance video of the actual crash," Schiada said.
The Saturday crash killed seven people, including Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz, three other passengers, two pilots and a flight attendant.
Katz, 72, was killed four days after he and an associate and close friend, H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, put together an $88-million deal to gain control of the media company that owns the Inquirer with an eye toward restoring the newspaper's stature.
The plane crashed at 9:40 p.m. as it was departing for Atlantic City International Airport. Schiada said the aircraft traveled 2,000 feet along the ground after rolling off the end of a runway and according to a witness, never became airborne.
The plane hit an antenna and smashed through a chain-link fence before going down an embankment into a gully filled partially with stream water. Among debris left in its wake were pieces of landing gear.
Much of the wreckage was consumed by fire, which could have damaged the recorders. Witnesses said they heard an explosion and saw a fireball spew 60 feet into the air.
Schiada said the captain had 18,500 hours of flying experience and the first officer 11,200 hours. Investigators are still gathering and reviewing the crew's medical records and experience, as well as maintenance records for the plane that flew 4,950 hours, he said.
"There is no information to suggest it was anything other than an accident at this time," Schiada said.
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