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Sen. Inhofe’s Son Identified As Tulsa Pilot Killed In MU-2 Plane Crash
By Mike Mitchell

November 12, 2013 - The pilot who died in Sundays Mitsubishi MU-2B-25 plane crash (N856JT) near Owasso, Oklahoma has been identified as Dr. Perry Inhofe, 52, the son of U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe.

Dr. Inhofe who was an orthopedic surgeon at Central States Orthopedics in Tulsa departed from Salina Regional Airport (KSLN) Saline County, Kansas just after 3 PM for Tulsa International Airport (KTUL).

Just before 4 PM, Inhofe encountered engine problems resulting in the 1974 multiengine MU-2B-25 crashing then bursting into flames about five miles north of the airport.

A witness reported he thought one engine had shut down when the aircraft “started spiraling out of control and it hit the ground.” Tulsa International Airport reported Inhofe issued an alert at 3:35 PM indicating he was have mechanical problems and requested immediate assistance.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said “my thoughts and prayers are with Jim and Kay and their family as they mourn this terrible loss.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said “I extend my deepest condolences to Sen. Inhofe and his family on the loss of their son Perry. Our thoughts are with them as they grieve”.

Senator Jim Inhofe has been a pilot for over 50 years and owns several aircraft. He reported that he taught his son (Dr. Perry Inhofe) to fly in the family’s 1954 Grumman Tiger a tradition that was passed on to Dr. Perry Inhofe’s 16-year-old son, Cole.

On April 19, 1993 South Dakota Gov. George Mickelson had boarded MU-2B-60 aircraft (N86SD) out of Cincinnati, Ohio for Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Enroute at 24,000 feet the aircraft was forced to descend as a result of fatigue cracking and fracture of a propeller hub arm, resulting in the separation of a propeller which stuck the aircraft causing wing and fuselage damage. This effected aircraft performance and control resulting in the crash and death of all eight onboard. 



The MU-2 aircraft is viewed by many as unforgiving and a dangerous aircraft to fly. In 2006, the MU-2B came under increased scrutiny as a result of an increase number of MU-2B accidents and incidents in 2004-05 that resulted in over 330 fatalities. As a result, the FAA developed a new MU-2B comprehensive standardized pilot training program under a special federal aviation regulation (SFAR). The SFAR originally proposed in September 2006 became final on February 6, 2008 to improve MU-2 safety. The SFAR also included mandated training for all maintenance personnel performing specific maintenance procedures on the MU-2 airplane.

In 2006 Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) introduced a bill in the House that would have force the FAA to ground the MU-2 until the FAA could certify that the aircraft was safe to fly. Tancredo also proposed pilots flying the MU-2 should have a type-rating requirement. Although the bill did not pass there was wide support from lawmakers. The FAA pointed out that the type rating did not include a requirement for recurrent training but the MU-2 SFAR did. In addition the SFAR calls for specific minimum hours, initial and requalification instead of training to proficiency, which is a type-rating. 

The MU-2B turboprop aircraft is a complex aircraft that has unique flight characteristics for example the MU-2 has spoilers instead of conventional ailerons. Fully understanding the aircraft’s complexity is much more critical during an emergency situation. For example most pilots are taught to reduce flaps following an engine failure on take-off to gain speed and lift however on the MU-2 using this procedure would result in further loss in lift. In the MU-2 the pilot must maintain flap setting and reduce climb rate, hence the need for MU-2 SFAR.

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