December 17, 1998 12:00 AM

A Learjet co-owned by U.S. Open golf champ Payne Stewart flew out of control over the nation’s heartland for hours today before crashing in South Dakota, killing all five people aboard, including Stewart. The aircraft left Orlando, Fla., this morning bound for Dallas, and the last communication was when the plane was over Gainesville, Fla., said Tony Molinaro, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman in Chicago. Stewart, 42, lived in Orlando and had been expected in Houston on Tuesday for practice rounds in advance of the Tour Championship, the PGA Tour’s final tournament of the year for the top 30 players on its money list.

  • Stewart’s Learjet had flown as high as 45,000 feet and the crew did not respond to repeated inquiries from air traffic controllers, said Paul Turk, an FAA spokesman.

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