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NTSB Reports Says Autopilot System May Have Contributed to Crash that Killed Johnny Morgan

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor


The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary investigation report into what caused former Mississippi Sen. Johnny Morgan’s plane to crash last month.

He was 76 years old.

Johnny Morgan

The crash occurred on May 17 when Morgan was headed to Drake Field Airport in Arkansas to get his plane repaired, according to the report.

He was the only person aboard the twin-engine Beech King Air E-90 plane when it crashed in a wooded area in northwestern Arkansas, south of Fayetteville. Morgan was killed in the crash.

The NTSB reported that Morgan had previously been in touch with an avionics repair shop at Drake Field Airport in Fayetteville to talk about the plane’s autopilot issues.

Morgan told the avionics technician that when engaged in heading hold mode the autopilot would place the airplane into a steep left bank.

Morgan was instructed to bring the aircraft in for repair and to avoid using the autopilot while flying by a technician.

Morgan flew from the Oxford-University Airport at about 11:27 a.m. About an hour later, he reported having trouble, saying he heard a sputtering sound and the plane crashed at about 12:36 p.m. near Winslow, Arkansas.

NTSB said the plane’s descent into the wooded terrain “was near vertical.”

The airplane wreckage was retained for further examination. The NTSB will continue its investigation and eventually release a final report.

An Oxford native, Morgan served as a Mississippi State Senator from 1983-1991. He served as a Lafayette County supervisor for several terms. He served on the North Mississippi Industrial Development Association, a subsidiary of TVA and was involved with the Mississippi Board of Economic Development.

Morgan founded the Morgan White Insurance Group in 1987.

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