Local News

Authorities Find Third Body From Plane Crash

Posted October 7, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Authorities believe they have found a third body from the mid-air collision in Moore County. Officials said searchers found what they believe to be the body of the other pilot Wednesday morning.

The Observer-Times of Fayetteville identified the victim as Archie Vipperman of Axton, Virginia.

Vipperman's Beech Bonanza collided with a Piper Cherokee about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. The planes blew apart, sending debris flying over three square miles. Pieces and bodies from the two small planes crashed to the ground and into the trees.

Two different area residents placed calls to 9-1-1 just after the crash. Here is a transcript of parts of those two calls:

First call:

Dispatcher: Moore County 911. What's your emergency? Caller: Let me get my breath. A big plane blew up. Dispatcher: A plane? Caller: Uh huh Dispatcher: How do you know it was a plane? Caller: I was in the yard, going to the mailbox. Dispatcher: And you saw it? Caller: Yes, I heard it pop in the air. I looked and saw two pieces of it coming down.

Second call:

Caller 2: There's a plane crashed down here at 1711 Needham Grove Road, right in fron of the Williams' house. Dispatcher: Is anybody injured? Caller 2: I don't know. Dispatcher: Is there any fire? Caller 2: No. There's no fire right now.

Debris landed all around one house, but amazingly never hit it. There were no injuries on the ground, but two men in one of the planes were killed.

56-year-old Robert McGee of Midland and 33-year-old Rodney Rushing of Indian Trail were flying in the Piper Cherokee. Their plane collided with the Beech Bonanza north of Robbins.

As searchers came across plane parts, they marked them with yellow tape. Later, all the pieces will be turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Investigators still don't know what caused the crash.