Aviation Technician Describes Plane Crash At Bentonville Airport

BENTONVILLE (KFSM) -- An aviation technician, who was at Bentonville Municipal Airport Wednesday (Aug. 31), said he spoke with the pilot of a plane that crashed into a hangar that morning about ten minutes before he took off.

Bentonville police identified the pilot at Rex Grimsley, 70, of Bentonville. He was the only one on board the Beechcraft A36 Bonanza.

"There was nothing wrong with him. He was completely competent, capable," technician Brandon Nolker said. "I'm sure it was a matter of communication between these two aircraft."

plane crash mapNolker said he was in the hangar next door to the one Grimsley crashed into when he heard Grimsley take off while another plane was landing at the same time.

"Evidently he was on a take off role to take off southbound and another airplane came in and landed northbound," Nolker said. "He was already right at about the speed to take off."

Police would not comment on the cause of the crash saying the Federal Aviation Administration will be taking over the investigation and will make the ultimately call on the cause.

"A guy I work with saw the wing go past [the hangar] and he said 'look out' and there was no time to react," Nolker said. "It sounded like a bomb going off."

The Bentonville airport is known as an uncontrolled airport, which means there is no air traffic control tower.

"Pilots will communicate with each other one the same radio frequency and give their location and their intentions," Nolker explained. " So in this case, I'm going to assume they didn't hear each other. Some breakdown in radio communication occurred here I think."

The municipal airport is near Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, but the pilots would not have been in XNA airspace, which means they should have been communicating on the same frequency.

"If you don't have a lot of high-performance aircraft and a lot of traffic coming and going, a tower is really not that useful in my opinion," Nolker said. "The radio procedures that pilots are taught, when they are followed and used correctly, these things don't happen."

Records show Grimsley was a local businessman involved in pilot services. Friends said he was respected as a good pilot.

"Flying is very, very safe, but like anything, bad things happen occasionally," Nolker said. "This is a tragedy."

The FAA will issue a final report on the cause of the crash in several weeks.