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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Dec. 3, 1993)
NFWS DIGEST Nebraskan
Edited by Jeff Singer JL li-/ V V kJ J-/lVJ-L/k/ 1 Friday, Dec„mb„, 3,1993
Officials seek answers in deadly plane crash
HIBBING, Minn. — Wrapped
Christmas packages were strewn
Thursday in the wreckage of a com
muter plane that crashed into a snowy
hillside in freezing drizzle, killing all
18 people on board.
Pieces of the fuselage rested up
side down as bodies were removed,
and the relatives of victims gathered
at churches in this mining town about
200 miles north of Minneapolis.
It was the deadliest plane crash in
the United States since March 22,
1992, when a USAir Fokker F28
crashed on takeoff in a snowstorm at
LaGuardia Airport in New York, kill
ing 27 people.
In Hibbing, the twin-engine
Jetstream 31 slammed into a mound
of mining waste 1 1/2 miles short ol
the airport Wednesday night. The
Northwest Airlink turboprop operat
ed by Express Airlines II Inc. didn’t
make a distress call.
The weather before the crash was
conducive to wing icing that can im
pair flying, but such conditions are
common this time of year in northern
The performance of the Jetstream
31 in icy conditions has been at the
center of a debate between the Feder
al Aviation Administration and the
National Transportation Safety Board
since a United Express plane crash
four years ago in which icing played
The safety board has been pressing
the FAA to require modifications that
would make the Jetstream 31 safer in
icy conditions. As late as October, the
FAA still had not done so, according
to correspondence between the agen
However, the plane that crashed at
Hibbing was equipped with a device
the NTSB has been pushing for all
Jetstream 31s. The plane also had all
required de-icing equipment and a
The shock is severe. You’re living in an environ
ment that’s not frequented by too many disas
--- 99 —
heated propeller, said Peter Black, a
spokesman for Jetstream Aircraft Ltd.,
a subsidiary of British Aerospace.
Other airplanes had landed at the
Hibbing airport earlier Wednesday
with no problems.
Alan Pollock, an NTSB spokes
man, said it was too early to speculate
on the cause of the crash. A cockpit
recorder was recovered and will be
sent to Washington for examination.
Christmas decorations adorned the
main street in Hibbing, which has a
population ofabout 18,000, but towns
people were somber as news of the
crash spread through cafes and stores.
“The shock is severe,” said the
Rev. Francis Zeigler of Immaculate
Conception Church. “You’re living
i n an e n v i ronmc n 11 h at ’ s no t freq uc n t
cd by too many disasters.”
Neither police nor the airline has
released the identities of the 16 pas
sengers and two crew members killed.
Reports from airport officials, friends
and relatives showed the victims
included business travelers, vacation
ers and people visiting friends in Min
Astronauts attempt to repair telescope
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. —
Space shuttle Endeavour roared
through the predawn darkness into
orbit Thursday after a day’s delay
of the mission to restore the Hubble
Space Telescope’s vision and vi
The 4.5 million-pound shuttle,
carrying seven astronauts, lighted
up the sky for miles around as it
rose from its seaside pad and
streaked over the Atlantic Ocean.
The critical, long-awaited re
pair mission features more
spacewalks than any American
mission to date — five, maybe
more. Endeavour is carrying 1 1
new parts for Hubble to be installed
by the spaccwalking astronauts.
It was the second launch at
tempt for the mission. The first on
Wednesday was thwarted by high
“It’s a beautiful sunrise,” Rich
ard Covey said moments after
Covey maneuvered Endeavour
into a 355-mile-high orbit. At that
point, the shuttle was trailing
Hubble by 6,800 miles. The shuttle
gradually will close the gap and
rendezvous with the telescope some
360 miles high early Saturday.
Hubble program scientist Ed
ward Weiler was ecstatic about
liftoff but still anxious about the
rendezvous and spacewalk days that
“It’s going to be an intense peri
od. This was the first step in a very
I ’m glad we finally
got to this point,
because I cannot
wait to vindicate
long journey,” Weiler said.
“I’m glad we finally got to this
point, because I cannot wait to
vindicate this program.”
The SI.6 billion telescope,
launched in April 1990, has a pri
mary mirror that’s too flat along
the edge because of a manufactur
ingerror. The defect blurs Hubble’s
view of extremely remote objects
in the universe and prevents the
orbiting observatory from peering
back with precision to the begin
ning of time.
Hubble also has three failed
gyroscopes, two quirky magnetom
eters, trembling solar panels, bad
solar-panel drive electronics, re
duced computer memory and a
balky power supply for an ultravi
olet light detector.
It’s up to Endeavour’s four
spaccwalkcrs to fix all that or at
least as much as they can. Story
Musgrave, Jeffrey Hoffman, Tom
Akers and Kathryn Thornton hope
to install corrective mirrors, a new
wide-field planetary camera, new
solar panels, new gyroscopes and
more once Hubble is captured by
the shuttle robot arm and anchored
in the cargo bay.
A record five spacewalks are
planned on five consecutive days
during Endeavour’s 11-day flight,
beginning around midnight Satur
day. The astronauts could go out as
many as seven times to work on
Hubble if necessary. Any major
jobs left undone would require an
other repair mission in five months
to a year.
NASA puts the cost of this mis
sion at S629 million: S251 million
for Hubble parts and related activ
ities and S378 million for the shut
The space agency has spent S3
billion to date on the Hubble pro
gram, including operating and
maintenance costs. The telescope
has a 15-ycar lifetime.
Space officials consider this the
most complicated flight in shuttle
history and quite possibly NASA’s
greatest challenge in space since
the Apollo moon landings. Astro
nauts have made satellite service
calls before, but none as demand
ing or as crucial as this one.
Many believe NASA’s reputa
tion rests on this mission. The space
agency has suffered numerous
blows over the past several years,
including perpetual shuttle trou
ble, a maligned space station project
and a vanished Mars Observer, not
to mention the Hubble mirror fias
Ojfutt defies Clinton, discharges gay airman
OMAHA — Sayinga 1984 regula
tion banning gays in the U.S. Air
Force remains in force despite a change
signed by President Clinton, the ser
vice moved Thursday to discharge a
“Despite what you’ve heard in the
media, despite what you’ve seen on
television, the 1984 regulation is still
valid,” Air Force attorney Capt.
Michael Guillory said during the dis
charge proceedings against Capt. Rich
The action came just days after
Tuesday’s White House announce
ment that President Cl inton had signed
into law a new policy on gays in the
The revision allows gays to serve
as long as they don’t disclose their
homosexuality or engage in homo
But Air Force officials said the
new law does not take effect until
February, and the case against
Richenbcrg deals only with the 1984
Richenbcrg disclosed that he was
gay in a private letter to his command
er last May.
“I’m hopeful that they will give me
a fair and partial hearing ... and I’m
also hopeful that I’ll be retained,” he
said prior to going before a three
member discharge panel Thursday
Richenberg, 35, said that he re
vealed his homosexuality because, as
a military officer, he had to be honest.
He said he had only recently become
aware that he was gay.
The two-hour morning hearing was
to decide what sort of evidence could
be presented in the case. Throughout
the hearing, Richenberg sat straight in
Richcnberg’s attorneys wanted to
try to show that the ban on gays is
Richcnbcrg’s right of free speech.
“We’re trying to kick a person out
based on his thoughts and not his
conduct,” said James Bitzes, area de
fense counsel for Offutt Air Force
Base, where Richenberg is based.
“What I would suggest is the place
to attack the lawfulness of that is
somewhere else,” military judge Lt.
Col. Teronce Curtin said.
He said such a defense would not
“Your client is free to file a suit in
federal court,” Curtin said.
Michelle Beneckeofthe Washing
ton, D.C.-based Scrvicemembcrs Le
gal Defense Network, said such a suit
would be filed if Richenbcrg is dis
Benccke declined to comment on
whether the revised policy signed by
Clinton would protect her client.
“That’s not an issue in this case,”
The network was formed to pro
vide legal service to men and women
who have been affected by the U.S.
military’s ban on homosexuals.
Richenbcrg is in a squadron that
flics RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft.
He said others in the squadron had
limited knowledge of his homosexu
“To them, it’s a non-issue, as well
it should be,” he said.
Richenbcrg, of San Antonio, Tex
as, has served in the Air Force for
about 8 1/2 years. He has been as
signed to Offutt, south of Omaha, for
the past four years.
Columbian drug lord
killed after search
BOGOTA, Colombia — Security
forces killed drug lord Pablo Escobar
in McdellinonThursday,cndinga 16
month hunt for one of the most want
ed men in the world.
Police and soldiers shot Escobar
dead at a shopping mall in the heart of
the city that served as the base for his
cocaine empire, according to local
radio reports. The death was con
firmed by the country’s prosecutor
Just three days ago, the drug lord's
wife and two children flew to Germa
ny scckmgpolitical asylum,but Bonn
rejected their application. The fami
ly, which has been targeted by a vig
ilante group, returned to Bogota and
were staying in a luxury hotel under
The vigilante group is believed to
be composed of members of the rival
Cali drug cartel, disenchanted former
Medellin cartel members and police
avenging the deaths of officers slain
by the cartel.
Escobar was one of the most want
ed men in the world. At one time, his
drug trafficking gang had been the
world’s biggest exporter of cocaine.
Houston ties NBA record with victory >
NEW YORK — The Houston
Rockets went into Madison Square
Garden and beat the New York Knicks
at their own game Thursday night,
tying the record for the best start in
NBA history at. 15-0.
The Rockets, with a 94-85 victory,
matched the start of the 1948-49
Washington Capitols. Hakeem
Olajauwon outplayed fellow All-Star
center Patrick Ewing and outscored
him 37-12, including 16-0 in the third
quarter when Ewing missed seven
The Knicks, who won 41 of their
previous 46 home games and had the
best defense in the NBA last season,
were held to 13 points in the second
period and got blown out in the third.
Panel requested in Bjorklund case
From Staff Flo ports
Roger Bjorklund should be sen
tenced by a three-judge panel, not a
lone district judge, his attorney said
Wednesday in a motion.
Lancaster County Chief Deputy
Public Defender Scott Hclvie filed a
motion saying Bjorklund was consti
tutionally entitled to a three-judge
Bjorklund was convicted on Nov.
17 of first-degree murder and use of a
weapon in commission of a felony in
the 1992 death of University of Nc
braska-Lincoln student Candice
Lancaster County District Judge
Donald Endacott ruled that he alone
would sentence Bjorklund on Jan. 24.
The ruling surprised prosecutors after
Helvie said Bjorklund was entitled
to a panel under the U.S. and Nebras
Endacott will hear the motion on
Dec. 17. A new trial motion, filed last
week, is scheduled for the same day.
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