Tracking data and expert insights provide more insight into the moments leading up to the crash of a small plane off the North Carolina coast last weekend that killed eight people.
Investigators recovered the aircraft and human remains. Among those on board were four high school students, the plane’s owner and his girlfriend, and the pilot and his son.
The wreckage having been discovered, the investigation is now working to find the cause of the fatal accident.
Charlie Snow, owner of Outer Banks Airlines, says pilot Ernest “Teen” Rawls was like a brother to him. The two flew together for nearly twenty years, including countless trips along the same county route from Hyde to Beaufort, where the accident took place.
Flight path maps on the day of the accident show the aircraft following a very different path from previous trips.
Snow says the new flight path makes sense, believing that Rawls initially embarked on a direct line to Beaufort but was then directed by the military to leave restricted airspace over the Cherry Point marine base which required it to loop and change. Classes.
A Cherry Point controller had described the plane’s movements as “erratic”, giving the impression that it was out of control.
“I didn’t see anything unusual about this flight until the end, when something catastrophic went wrong,” Snow said.
What stands out is this moment: Just before the crash, tracking data shows the plane rapidly rising into the sky while slowing down.
Snow says it feels like a recovery move, with Rawls making a last ditch effort to get over something disastrous that had happened to the plane.
“I believe something catastrophic went wrong that we weren’t trained for,” Snow says.
Snow says inside the plane’s wreckage, investigators will find technology that will help them see if the engine failed and other data about the cause of the crash.
He expects them to find that the man he loved like a brother did everything he could to save those on board.
“None of the pilots I know who flew this plane could have done better than what he did. So if he couldn’t pull it off, neither could any of us. That’s how I see it,” Snow says. .
Snow, who worked for the FAA for 20 years, says he thinks investigators will find out what went wrong.
“They’re going to find out. Because they want to prevent it from happening again,” he says.
Snow also tells WRAL not to expect a final report anytime soon, saying the NTSB can spend up to a year or more investigating a case and preparing its findings.