A Learjet 35 Aircraft Is Left to Fly Until it Runs Out of Fuel
Learjet 35 was a doomed plane, flying miles off course and with passengers and crew presumed dead. All that could be done now was to wait for the plane to run out of fuel – but where would it crash?
On October 25, 1999, a chartered Learjet 35 was scheduled to fly from Orlando, Florida, to Dallas, Texas.
Early in the flight, the aircraft, which was climbing to its assigned altitude on autopilot, quickly lost cabin pressure and all six on board were incapacitated due to hypoxia – a lack of oxygen.
The aircraft continued climbing past its assigned altitude, then failed to make the westward turn toward Dallas over north Florida and continued on its northwestern course, flying over the southern and midwestern United States for almost four hours and 1,500 miles (2,400 km).
The plane ran out of fuel over South Dakota and crashed into a field near Aberdeen after an uncontrolled descent.
The two pilots were Michael Kling and Stephanie Bellegarrigue. The four passengers on board were PGA golfer Payne Stewart; his agents, Van Ardan and Robert Fraley; and Bruce Borland, a golf architect with the Jack Nicklaus golf course design company.