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Arkansas pilot killed in Bollinger County crash
By Bob Miller ~ Southeast Missourian
SCOPUS, Mo. -- Federal Aviation Administration investigators are combing through the wreckage of a Bollinger County plane crash that claimed a family practitioner from Newport, Ark.
Dr. Anthony Bruce Junkin, 59, died Thursday when his 1967 Piper Twin Commanche airplane plummeted into a grassy hilltop at the intersection of Route M and County Road 330. The area is six miles west of Scopus and 10 miles north of Marble Hill.
Junkin was alone, flying home from an experimental aircraft show in Oshkosh, Wis. His son, Joe Junkin of Three Falls, Mont., said he was there with his father for four days but took a commercial flight back to Montana as the elder Junkin returned to Arkansas.
Flying often brought the two together.
"He loved the freedom, the intellectual challenge, he loved the mental discipline that it requires," said Joe Junkin, 35. "More than anything, he loved soaring through the air like a bird."
Witnesses said they heard the airplane make sputtering noises and then fall silent before the crash. Cloyd Garland was putting up fences on his property when he heard the airplane fly overhead.
"It was riding fine and sounded good," Garland said. "Then the engine started cutting out, and it died all of a sudden. A minute later, it went straight down, and I heard the crash."
A few minutes later, Garland got to the scene and found Junkin dead.
Kimberly Moyers, who lives about three miles from the crash site, said she saw the plane flying low and heard the sputtering, but did not hear the crash.
"It just sounded like it was running out of gas or the engine was just quitting," Moyers said. "I saw the top of the plane was going down, but I didn't hear anything and I didn't see an explosion, so I thought he landed."
The sheriff's office received the first call about the crash at 12:59 p.m.
FAA investigators arrived hours later. Early indications were that the plane's propellers were not moving when the plane hit the ground, they said. Among the first things the FAA will investigate today is the fuel system and possible mechanical problems.
Joe Junkin said his father topped off the fuel before leaving Wisconsin.
"I know for a fact he had plenty of fuel in there," he said. "He could have made the same trip twice on the fuel he had."
The crash scene was about 30 yards long and 10 yards wide. The propeller was half buried into the ground, the cockpit exposed and the tail bent but not broken.
A black overnight bag and a blue towel sat among the wreckage.
The Patton Volunteer Fire Department responded to the call, but the plane never caught fire. Bill VanDeVen, the fire chief, said he did not smell any leaking fuel and said there was no need to spray down the area.
Junkin's friends in Newport -- a town of about 6,000 -- are grieving the loss. They described him as a devoted husband and father of two who carried pictures of his four grandchildren in his wallet.
"He was a fine man," Dr. Roger Green said. "I've known him a lot of years. He was just a fine fellow and real devoted to his family. He was well thought of in the community and well liked in the hospital. This is a big loss."
Managing editor Heidi Hall contributed to this report.
335-6611, extension 127