NTSB releases report in fatal Chapel Hill crash

July 19, 2010 10:34:04 AM PDT
The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report Monday about a Chapel Hill plane crash that killed the pilot and injured two passengers last week.

One of the survivors, 22-year-old Kyle Henn, is the brother of 25-year-old Nate Henn, who was killed in a terrorist bombing on July 11 in Uganda.

According to statements given by witnesses, the Cirrus SR20 appeared to approach the Horace Williams Airport at a high rate of speed when it touched down and then bounced off the runway on July 12.

Witnesses say after a third and fourth touchdown of the aircraft's front wheel, the plane seemed "out of control."

Kyle Henn was sitting in the rear seat of the plane and confirmed those accounts saying the pilot, 66-year-old Thomas Pitts, made a U-turn as he approached the runway to land. Henn said the plane "hopped" into the air after touching the runway the first time. After several more attempts and bounces, Pitts applied power and the plane veered off the left side, crashing into some trees and a fence.

Henn's friends were at the airport awaiting the plan's arrival and also witnessed the crash. They said the plane appeared to approach the airport faster than usual for a plan of its size. After crashing, "the rocket assisted parachute fired out in the direction the plane was originally traveling."

Another set of witnesess, who were standing in front of a maintenance hangar, confirmed the aircraft seemed to be running at "full power" as it approached and was traveling between 60 and 70 mph when it left the runway.

The NSTB says Pitts was issued a pilot certificate in 2004 and had 445 flight hours. Of those hours, 180 were gained in the Cirrus SR20. His last recorded flight before the crash was on May 7. The pilot's logbook also indicated the fatal flight was the first time Pitts landed at Horace Williams.

Additional findings show an examination of the plane's frame, flight controls, engine assembly and accessories did not reveal any problems.

The investigation is ongoing and at last check, second passenger Jim Donahoe was in critical condition.

Kyle Henn is at his parents' Raleigh home recovering.

Send pictures | Classifieds | Report A Typo |  Send Tip |  Get Alerts
Most Popular  |  Follow abc11 on Twitter  |  abc11 on Facebook


Load Comments