Official: Plane Was Intact, No Distress Call Prior To Crash
An aerial view of the plane crash in McDuffie County.
THOMSON, Ga. – An official with the National Transportation Safety Board said Friday that the plane that crashed in Georgia Wednesday night, killing five people and injuring two pilots, was intact prior to the crash.
Robert Sumwalt said they have also recovered voice communications and radar data that revealed it was a normal flight with no distress calls or unusual comments from the pilot prior to the crash. He added that there were clear skies and visibility for 10 miles with calm winds.
The NTSB has interviewed five witnesses, who they said have been helpful, and will compare their information with the data they have recovered. Sumwalt said they will interview the two pilots who were injured "at the appropriate time."
Sumwalt said they have also found surveillance video of the plane prior to the crash, which he said is grainy and doesn't show if the plane touched down prior to crashing into a 60-foot utility pole. They will send the video to the NTSB office in Washington for further analysis.
So far, the plane's black boxes have not been recovered.
The Hawker Beechcraft 390/ Premier I, a small business jet that seats two pilots and six passengers, was carrying five staff members of the Vein Guys clinic of vascular medicine specialists in Augusta, said Dr. Stephen Davis, a plastic surgeon who works for an affiliated Vein Guys clinic in Nashville.
Those killed in the crash included Dr. Steven Roth, a vascular surgeon, nurse anesthetist Lisa Volpitto, ultrasound technician Tiffany Porter, and a secretary, Kim Davidson.
Wiley said dental records would be used in an attempt to confirm the identity of the fifth person. He said officials believe they know the identity, but need to confirm it before releasing the name.
The plane had departed from John Tune Airport in Nashville, Tennessee around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.
Investigators don't yet know why the plane aborted its landing at Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport, a small terminal with a 5,500-foot runway about 30 miles west of Augusta.
National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt said fuel leaking from the plane ignited in flames Wednesday night after it hit the concrete pole with enough force to sheer off the left wing. He said investigators found pieces of the plane strewn over 100 yards.