Rice reported trouble with instruments before deadly plane crash

RAW AUDIO: Final communications before deadly plane crash
Dr. Mike Rice
Dr. Mike Rice

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - "November 01 Delta, there was moderate rime icing reported..."

"Okay, I'll be a looking."

That exchange leads into the final twenty minutes of transmissions between the aircraft piloted by Lubbock doctor Michael Rice and Lubbock Approach on Wednesday February 4, 2015, shortly before the aircraft took down the KCBD broadcast tower and killed its pilot.

KCBD's investigative team has obtained the radio transmissions between the Lubbock Airport Air Traffic Control Tower and the aircraft, designated N301D (heard as "November 01 Delta" in radio transmissions) piloted by Dr. Michael Rice.

The icing was a pilot report, or PIREP, at 5200' MSL (Mean Sea Level). Transmissions between pilot and traffic control describe altitude in terms of the altitude above sea level, or MSL. The Lubbock International Airport is listed at 3,281 feet MSL.

Conditions that night were reported to be overcast at 800 feet above the ground with cloud tops at 6300 to 6500 feet MSL (approximately 3,000 feet about ground level).

Ten minutes later, in the next transmission from the ill-fated aircraft Dr. Rice says, "I'm just having a little bit of trouble getting my instruments set up. I may have to circle up here a little bit until I get everything figured out."

Lubbock Air Traffic Control responds, telling the aircraft to maintain its heading and 8,000 foot altitude while he works out his instrument difficulties.

Three minutes later, Rice radios that he is ready to begin his descent to the airport. He requests runway 35 left and is given instructions for his descent and approach to the runway.

Four minutes later he is cleared to approach by Lubbock Air Traffic Control.

Four minutes after being cleared to approach, another aircraft radios that it is having difficulty flying. The controller radios to Rice that his clearance to approach is canceled and he is redirected.

Rice is instructed to climb to 7,000 feet and turn left to a heading of 270. Rice acknowledges the instruction, "Left 270." That is the last transmission heard from Rice's aircraft.

Approximately one minute later the controller attempts to contact November 301 Delta with no response.

"November 01 Delta, Approach?"

"November 01 Delta, Approach?"

"November 01 Delta, Approach?"

"November 01 Delta, be advised radar contact lost."

Between transmissions the controller tells another party that there has been a power spike. The controller asks another aircraft to attempt contact.

Finally, more than four minutes after the last transmission from Rice, an announcement comes over the air, "There's been a plane crash."

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