Pilot dies when small plane from Houston crashes

FAA: Pilot was trying to avoid bad weather

WELLS, Texas - One person died when a twin-engine plane crashed in an East Texas field while flying from Houston to Oklahoma.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Lynn Lunsford said Tuesday that searchers located the wreckage Monday night in a large field near Wells, about 140 miles northeast of Houston. The wreckage was badly burned.

The FAA said the plane was en route from West Houston Airport to Tulsa Riverside Airport when controllers lost contact with the aircraft around 9:30 p.m. Monday.

Officials believe the pilot was trying to avoid bad weather near Cherokee County when the plane went off radar. The plane was flying at 23,000 feet in the middle of a heavy wind, rain and hail.

"The first thing we have to do is get to the accident site and from there they'll begin the process of looking at the wreckage and gaining access to whatever record they need to try and determine what happened," Lunsford said.

West Houston Airport Director Woody Lesikar said security cameras showed the 64-year-old pilot, John Thomas Steeper, checking in and doing pre-flight checks before taking off.

"He came up to the airplane to unload his luggage, parked the car, and then came in and took care of his obligations and then departed," Lesikar said.

Steeper, of Broken Arrow, Okla., was the only person on board the plane. The plane was registered out of Broken Arrow.

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