Pilot reported autopilot issues before crash at Umstead Park, NTSB report says

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The pilot who died alongside his wife when the plane they were in crashed at Umstead State Park last month was having problems with the autopilot feature and difficulty seeing the runway at Raleigh-Durham International Airport before the crash, a preliminary report from the NTSB says.

Dr. Harvey Partridge, a veterinarian in Florida and his wife, Pat, were on board when the plane went down on Oct. 20.

NTSB investigators found that air traffic controllers directed Harvey to use GPS to guide his plane to Runway 32 but Partridge told controllers he was having GPS and autopilot problems with the single-engine Piper PA-32.

Then, about seven miles from the runway, a controller told the pilot he was flying too low and gave him instructions to climb higher.

According to the NTSB, the controller eventually cleared the pilot for the visual approach to the runway and the pilot responded that he saw "lots of lights" but he did not see the runway.

The controller then told him that he would turn up the intensity of the runway lights, the report said.

It appeared the plane was lined up and headed for the runway, but then the pilot stopped responding.

Authorities reported the plane as missing and a search ensued Sunday night. The wreckage was found the next day.

Harvey, 72, was described as an experienced pilot.
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