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Plane lost contact with air traffic control before crash

HOOKSETT - Herman Hassinger contacted an air traffic control station less than 30 minutes before his Beechcraft A36 plane made a 180-degree turn and crashed on Interstate 93 on Oct. 25, according to a preliminary report by the National Traffic Safety Board.

The crash killed Hassinger, who was described as being in "good spirits" when he took off from Nashua to fly to Laconia to attend a New Hampton School board of trustees meeting, and his wife, Doris. They were both 83 and lived on Block Island, R.I.

According to the NTSB report, Hassinger and his wife left Block Island the morning of Oct. 25 and landed at Boire Field in Nashua to clean the plane's windscreen before leaving for Laconia.

Workers at Boire Field "stated that the airplane did not take on fuel (in Nashua), and that the pilot appeared to be in good spirits," the report said.

Hassinger contacted a radar approach control facility in Boston at 12:39 p.m. Oct. 25, shortly after leaving Nashua, the report said. He was cruising at 5,500 feet when, at 12:49 p.m., "the airplane was observed making a 180-degree turn from its established northerly course from the south, and the airplane's transponder code was lost. Air traffic control attempted to contact the pilot several times via radio to verify the airplane's altitude, but no response was received. The airplane was lost from radar contact (at 1:06 p.m.)."

The plane clipped a light stanchion and crashed on I-93 at 1:06 p.m. that day, the report said.

The plane's cabin was extensively damaged and its landing gear was retracted, the report said, though the engine was still attached.

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Tim Buckland may be reached at tbuckland@unionleader.com.

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