The plane that crashed carrying a prominent Junction City family rapidly began losing altitude after adjusting its flight path for bad weather in the area, according to a preliminary report released Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The crash on June 7 killed six members of the Bramlage family. The family was returning to Kansas after a vacation in the Bahamas when the plane crashed at Tiger Creek Preserve near Lake Wales, Fla.
According to the report, three witnesses reported hearing or seeing the single-engine plane before it crashed. One witness, a pilot in a nearby plane, reported hearing a mayday call before the crash.
Another witness on the ground heard “three to four cycles of a whooshing high to low sound,” followed by the sound of something breaking, the report said. He then saw the plane below the clouds in a spin. The witness said the plane appeared to be missing parts, but he did not see anything fall from the plane.
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The third witness, also on the ground, saw black smoke trailing the spinning plane. When the plane crashed, he and his brother ran to the wreckage and began trying to extinguish the flames and aid the victims.
Final results of the investigation may take up to a year and will involve reconstructing the aircraft, said Tim Monville, an investigator for NTSB.
Ronald Bramlage, who was piloting the plane, was the grandson of Fred Bramlage, the namesake of Kansas State University’s basketball arena. His wife, Becky Bramlage, was the president of the Junction City school board. Their four children also died.
The funeral for the Bramlage family was held Monday in Junction City.