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State News

January 4, 2013

FAA: Plane in north Ala. crash not registered

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Federal Aviation Administration records show that a plane that crashed in Jasper killing three teenagers hadn’t been registered to fly since 2010.

FAA records show HiFlight Aviation of Jasper bought the twin-engine Piper PA 30 in May 2010. The company applied to the FAA for registration, but the application was returned to HiFlight in June 2010 for correction. The FAA received no response and canceled the registration that summer, the agency said in a statement.

The plane crash Tuesday night killed 17-year-old student pilot Jordan Smith of Jasper and two of his friends, Jordan Montgomery, 17, and Brandon Ary, 19, both of Arley. The FAA said earlier that its regulations prohibit student pilots from taking up passengers.

The airport manager said Wednesday the plane was taken without permission. Smith’s mother said the owner had given her son access to the plane, but she could not recall the owner’s name.

State business records show that HiFlight was a limited liability corporation organized by Ray Whitworth in Jasper in 2010. A phone number for Whitworth listed in 2010 is no longer active.

Airport Manager Edwin Banks said Friday he did not know how to contact Whitworth.

Birmingham attorney Bart Slawson prepared the organization papers for Whitworth. Slawson said Friday he handled the matter by phone, never met Whitworth and has no current contact information for him.

FAA records show that Whitworth is licensed to fly twin-engine planes like the Piper that crashed in a swampy, wooded area about a mile south of the Walker County Airport.

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