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NTSB: Pilot may have had lack of oxygen before Leech Lake crash

Leech Lake area Leech Lake area |  Photo: WDIO-TV

Created: September 29, 2020 04:33 PM

A preliminary report by federal investigators says a pilot may have suffered from a lack of oxygen and encountered bad weather before his plane crashed into Leech Lake earlier this month.

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Sixty-two-year-old Thomas A. Borum was flying the plane that crashed on Sept. 1. According to the preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board, Borum had left Natchez, Mississippi shortly after 9 a.m. and stopped for fuel in Kirksville, Missouri, at around 1 p.m. He took off from Kirksville shortly after 2:30.

Later in the day, while Borum was receiving services from Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center, controllers became concerned that he might be suffering from a lack of oxygen due to his altitude, course deviations, and slow communication responses. They directed him to land at St. Cloud, which he did, but he later returned to the air without receiving medical treatment.

As the plane approached Bemidji, Borum encountered a line of adverse weather.  Flight trackers show Borum flew east over Leech Lake, made a few 360-degree turns, and then flew back west toward Bemidji.  During this time, the plane first varied between 2,000 and 4,000 feet above sea level before ultimately climbing to 7,000 feet and then making a continuous descent into Leech Lake at 8:07 p.m.

The plane was recovered the next day in 12 feet of water.

The NTSB cautions that the report is preliminary, subject to change, and may contain errors. Final crash reports typically take a year or longer.

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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