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NTSB preliminary report: Plane never reached 150 feet before crashing at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport

Firefighters work the scene of a plane crash Oct. 30 at the FlightSafety training center building at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. A Beechcraft King Air crashed into the building, killing four people including the pilot.
Firefighters work the scene of a plane crash Oct. 30 at the FlightSafety training center building at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. A Beechcraft King Air crashed into the building, killing four people including the pilot. The Wichita Eagle

A preliminary report by a federal agency investigating the fatal plane crash Oct. 30 at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport says it appears the aircraft was never higher than 150 feet before it slammed into a nearby building.

The report, released Thursday by the National Transportation Safety Board, also said the Beechcraft King Air B200 was registered and operated by Gilleland Aviation Inc., of Georgetown, Texas.

Information from the Federal Aviation Administration shows the aircraft is owned by Beechcraft. The FAA’s database sometimes lags behind the most updated sales of planes.

Four people were killed in the midmorning accident after the plane crashed on the roof of a FlightSafety building. The pilot, who was contracted to take the plane to Mena, Ark., was killed along with three people inside the building.

Six people were injured in the crash, including two seriously, according to the report. The condition of the only person who remains in the hospital, Scott Mans, has been upgraded to fair, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The report generally confirmed information that has been previously provided by authorities. Following are some of the report’s details:

One minute and 11 seconds elapsed between the time the plane departed the runway and the pilot, Mark Goldstein, radioed to the air-traffic control tower that he was declaring an emergency and had lost his left engine.

Witnesses said the aircraft made a left turn after the takeoff and estimated its altitude was less than 150 feet.

One witness reported hearing a “reduction in power on one engine” before the left turn.

A witness who saw the plane from about 20 yards away said the aircraft was in a left turn as it approached the hangars east of the FlightSafety building. The wings were level as it flew west of the building and the landing gear was “down and locked,” the flaps were extended and the rudder was neutral. The right engine was at full power, the witness said. As the plane disappeared from his view, he heard the sound of an impact.

Another witness told investigators that the plane was in a “gradual” descending left turn. He thought the plane was going to land on the west runway, but it hit the northeast corner of the building.

That witness also said the landing gear was extended and both propellers were rotating. He said the plane’s left engine struck the building just below the roof line, followed by a section of the left wing.

When the wing struck the building, it broke off from the plane. The plane’s nose struck the building’s roof, and the aircraft slid for about 20 to 30 feet before the tail section came over the top of the plane. A large explosion and fire followed.

Weather conditions at the time showed a wind speed of a little more than 18 mph with visibility at 10 miles.

Surveillance video from surrounding buildings has been obtained by authorities and will be reviewed, the report said. The NTSB has collected pieces of the plane for further examination.

The cockpit voice recorder was recovered and is being examined by NTSB. Two other electronic data recording units on the plane also were recovered and are being processed.

The report didn’t mention the two maintenance test flights that an NTSB investigator said last week were conducted prior to Goldstein flying the plane.

It usually takes more than a year for the NTSB to issue a final report on fatal crashes. In the last fatal crash at Mid-Continent, in 2000, the final report was released more than three years later.

Contributing: Stan Finger of The Eagle

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rickplumlee.

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