NTSB Issues Preliminary Plane Crash Report

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February 7, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its preliminary report into the crash that killed two people Jan. 18 in the Briarcliffe Resort RV Park in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The pilot, 62-year-old Kenneth Thode, of Massachusetts, and a woman on the ground, 70-year-old Eva Sullivan, of New Hampsire, were killed when the plane crashed into her RV at 1:07 p.m. Sullivan's husband survived, but was badly burned. A bystander also sustained minor injuries.

The report provided new information about Thode's experience, which one area flight expert finds troubling, WPDE-TV, Conway, S.C., reported.

The report says Thodes held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine-land and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on Dec. 17, 2009. According to his pilot logbook, he had accrued 388 total hours of flight experience, and 21 hours of actual instrument flight experience.

Basically what that means is Thodes had spent a total of 388 hours in the air. Of those hours, 21 of those were times where he was flying in the clouds, only dependent on his instruments.

Joe DeFeo, a former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety commissioner who has logged more than 3,000 hours in the air and has multiple licenses and certifications for flying, reviewed the NTSB's report. He says that 388 hours is not a lot of time.

"It takes a pilot about 1,000 logged hours before they're considered to have reasonable experience," he said.

The NTSB reviewed voice and radar data from the the FAA and learned the pilot had asked to do three instrument approaches. The report says at the end of the approach, the pilot was offered the "option" of landing or executing a low approach.

The NTSB says the pilot elected to execute the low approach and was issued a frequency change which he acknowledged.

DeFeo says the pilot was very inexperienced to be performing such maneuvers.

The NTSB investigators also interviewed witnesses to the crash who said they heard the plane's engine and then saw the plan hit the tree, the RV and then the truck. There were several explosions and a large ball of flames and black smoke that rose into the air.

The report says investigators found no evidence of any structural failure to the plane before impact. They found no evidence of any failure to the flight controls before impact.

The report also revealed new information about the plane and the pilot. The Cessna was manufactured in 2004 and had been inspected on Dec. 1, 2010, when it had 1,485.8 Total hours of operation.

A full report detailing the exact cause of the crash could take more than a year to complete.

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