The plane, a twin-engine Beechcraft King Air A100, was apparently in good condition when it hit the ground and exploded into flames about two miles from the Eveleth-Virginia airport in the Minnesota iron range. The Beechcraft model has an excellent safety record, with only two fatal crashes—both in December 1997—in the past six years. Debris recovered from the crash site includes both the plane’s engines, which suffered blade damage, suggesting that the engines were running when the plane crashed.
While weather conditions were less than ideal, with some ice and freezing rain, two smaller Beech Queen Air planes had landed at Eveleth without incident two hours before the crash, when temperatures were colder. Wellstone’s plane was reportedly equipped with two separate de-icing mechanisms.