NORTH COLLINS, N.Y. (WIVB) — The National Transportation Safety Board is releasing its preliminary report following a fatal crash between two small airplanes. The September 25th crash killed three people – Richard and Kathleen Walker, 69, and Paul Rosiek, 60.
“Accidents like this are so rare,” said Bob Miller, an aviation analyst who is spending Tuesday morning reviewing the report.
Miller says about 10 mid-air crashes happen around the United State each year. He says, what makes this one more unique, is that the two pilots left from the same airport, Hamburg Airport, and were flying together, in formation, to the same destination, St. Mary’s, PA.
“They’re presumably talking to each other on the radio,” said Miller. “They know the other aircraft is in immediate vicinity.”
The NTSB report paints a picture of what the final moments leading up to the fatal crash were like. Investigators, going off of witness statements, report the Piper, the plane the Walkers were flying in – made contact with the Cessna, Rosiek’s plane.
“Interestingly enough, the Piper can see what’s ahead and what’s above it,” said Miller, adding all planes do have blind spots, similar to a cars, where it includes underneath and behind. “There was damage to the Piper’s left wing which indicates that was damaged by the impact and then propeller marks on the Cessna’s right cowl.”
NTSB officials collected pieces from three sites, including one with the Piper’s wing and Cessna’s tail.
“The entire control of the airplane – most of it is from the tail feather,” explains Miller. “The elevator, the rudder, those are two control components. If they’re damaged or inoperative, the airplane simply cannot be controlled.”
The report doesn’t indicate if medical issues or weather might have played any role in the crash. The NTSB is still looking at radar data hoping to come up with the probable reason these planes collided.
“It’s not exact science and we may never know.”
The NTSB is expected to release the final report in six to 12 months.