LUBBOCK, Texas — EverythingLubbock.com recently obtained records from the investigation of a deadly airplane crash — a flight that took off from Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport and ended in Thomson, Georgia. The records revealed details from the flight including the two pilots’ final words before the crash.
On October 5, 2021, Raymond Bachman, 73, of Fountain Hills, Arizona, and Claude Duchesne, 63, of El Paso, lost their life in a cargo plane crash after they took off from Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport.
The two took off from Lubbock at about 2:00 a.m. and went missing at about 5:45 a.m. The plane was found crashed near Thomson, Georgia. The plane was in sight of the airport when it crashed.
The voice cockpit recorder from the plane was recovered from the wreckage of the crash. The transcripts from the recorder showed that at around 5:17 a.m., Bachman, the captain stated “there’s gonna be lighting all around us.”
Bachman gave altitude control instructions to Duchesne, the first officer. Duchesne made a radio call that included the word “approach,” but the whole phrase was unintelligible due to the poor quality of the voice recording.
Bachman became upset with Duchesne for the way he was flying the plane through the storm. Bachman said they were “descending like an escalator.” At around 5:19 a.m., Bachman asked Duchesne if he had flown in bad weather before and then made multiple raised voice statements related to the way Duchesne was flying.
The recording picked up an argumentative conversation between the captain and the first officer. The captain told the Duchesne “you fly the damn airplane. I don’t want you to kill me.”
Another conversation was heard that was consistent with running a descent checklist. Bachman later said, “descent checklist complete.”
At 5:43 a.m. the captain told Duchesne “you’re way high.” Duchesne answered, “no I’m not.”
Bachman told the first officer at 5:44 a.m. “now you’re low,” and “you got trees.”
A second later, the recording played the initial sound of the impact of the plane hitting the ground.
A record of conversation was shown between Bachman and his wife, Elma Bachman on the night of the crash. Elma said Bachman was not expecting to fly later in the evening.
Bachman sent a text to Elma at 8:00 p.m. Arizona time that said “all-nighter to Georgia.” Elma asked Bachman if he had gotten enough sleep and he responded that he did. Elma said that Bachman is very conscientious about getting proper rest.
Overnight, Bachman sent her another text explaining they were close to their destination and they had to fly through thunderstorms and icing conditions on their trip.
Elma said Bachman and his first officer, Duchesne had a “very good relationship” and he really enjoying flying with him.
An additional record of a conversation between first officer Duchesne and a long-time friend of his, Gloria Rey was included in the aviation investigation. Duchesne asked Rey to “please pray for me” before takeoff. He sent her another text during the flight and said “going into a storm” and “please pray for me” again.
Rey said Duchesne was confident in his abilities to drive through storms.
Surveillance footage showed the plane attempting to land at the Thomson airport. At 5:41 a.m. the plane became visible to the outdoor cameras of the airport. The landing light of the plane started flickering at 5:44 a.m. Just a couple of seconds later the plane was no longer in the camera’s view, no explosion or glow of fire was seen.
The flight dispatcher for the plane told the captain that if the “runway is soaked” at the Thomson airport or if the weather was bad “for any reason” to divert to Augusta. After the accident, the flight follower saw several notices to the airman for the instrument landing system at the Thomson airport, but he was not aware of any prior to the flight.
The flight follower was not aware and did not hear the crew say they were tired at any point on the flight.
After the crew on the plane failed to check in with the flight follower after the expected arrival time, he called flight service to inquire about the flight’s whereabouts.
The records show that the crew did not send out an emergency signal or call for help prior to the crash.
The accident report said the aircraft was destroyed on impact.