Spirit of St. Louis – Pick Your Charity, Pick Your Car

Federal investigation into fatal plane crash continues

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. – Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Authority remained at the scene of a Chesterfield gas station a day after a local business developer died in a plane crash.

The crash happened a little before 3 p.m. Wednesday at the BP gas station near Long Road and Chesterfield Airport Road. The pilot, identified as Jim Smith, was coming from Albuquerque, New Mexico and attempting to land at the Spirit of St. Louis Airport when the plane went down.

Witnesses said the plane clipped the canopy over the gas pumps and crashed. A small explosion engulfed the single-engine aircraft in flames, keeping rescuers from reaching Smith, who perished.

Prior to going down, Smith radioed the air traffic control tower that he was losing power and might not make it to the runway.

The plane wreckage will be removed from the area and taken to a secure facility in Tennessee for insurance purposes.

Investigators could be in the area for a couple of days, but it could take between six and nine months before an official cause for the crash is determined.

Meanwhile, Smith’s friends gathered at the crash site to get a look at the wreckage and reflect on their shared memories of him.

“Years ago, when we were first starting out, I didn’t have a car. I had a sick new born at the time,” said Diane Hoffner-Guenther, Smith’s friend. “(Smith) heard that, had us to his house, and sold us his station wagon for one dollar.”

Smith is credited with playing a major role in restoring in the Chase Park Plaza in the late 1990s.