Ice to blame for Bettenhausen crash?

Icy conditions and pilot inexperience may have contributed to the plane crash which killed CART team owner Tony Bettenhausen, according to reports

Ice to blame for Bettenhausen crash?

Bettenhausen, his wife Shirley and two business associates were killed on Monday morning after his plane crashed into a farm field.

It has emerged Bettenhausen reported ice of the wings and windshield of his light aircraft moments before it plunged thousands of feet.

National transportation safety board investigator David Muzio said the 48-year-old had told an air traffic controller of the icing and asked permission to climb.

Minutes later, the plane, which had been flying level, fell at a rate of 6,000-9,000 feet per minute.

Also killed in the tragedy were Russ Roberts, a partner in Bettenhausen's racing team; and Larry Rangel, an Indiana businessman.

Bettenhausen, 48, was returning to his Indianapolis home from race testing in Florida.

Muzio said a preliminary report on the accident could be available as early as Monday.

Bettenhausen's inexperience as a pilot also could have been a factor.

An FAA official in Indianapolis said Bettenhausen had been certified to operate a twin-engine aircraft in December.

A Bettenhausen Motorsports executive, Brad Stevens, said Bettenhausen had flown single-engine planes for about five years and had purchased the twin-engine Beech Baron 58 about eight months ago.

Stevens said Bettenhausen had been taking private flight instruction in the Baron 58 before he was certified, but it was unclear how much flying time he had accumulated.

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