SMYRNA, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nearly three weeks after a deadly small plane crash in Percy Priest Lake, the National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report.
The pilot and six passengers were killed in the crash that happened just before 11:00 a.m. on May 29, 2021.
All seven were high-ranking Remnant Fellowship leaders and the church describes them as “some of the finest and most loving people that you would ever come across.”
According to the report, the Cessna 501 Citation, N66BK, took off from Smyrna Airport headed to Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida. Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft was involved in an accident.
NTSB said the pilot filed an instrument flight rules plan, purchased 414 gallons of Jet A fuel and taxied to runway 32.
The report detailed the communications between the pilot and air traffic control as well as radar data. The report showed that ATC lost contact with the pilot at 10:55:11.
Preliminary review of air traffic control (ATC) communications and radar data revealed theNational Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Preliminary Report
pilot was cleared for takeoff and instructed to turn to a heading of 090°, and to climb and
maintain 3,000 ft mean sea level (msl). The pilot initially read back the clearance as “at or
above 3,000 ft”, and the controller corrected him. The airplane departed at 1053:06 and made a climbing right turn to the east and the pilot was instructed to contact Nashville departure control. At 1054:27, when the airplane was about 3 miles north of the airport, a departure controller contacted the airplane and asked if they were “on frequency.” The pilot responded with, “N66BK with you.” The controller then instructed the pilot to turn right to a heading 130°; however, the pilot did not acknowledge. At 1054:46, the controller asked the pilot if he “copied” the heading instruction. The pilot responded about 4 seconds later and said, “130…Bravo Kilo.” At 1055:11, the controller instructed the pilot to climb and maintain 15,000 ft. msl, but there was no response. The controller then made multiple attempts to re-establish communications with the airplane; however, there were no further communications.
A witness told investigators he heard the plane before he saw it hit the lake “straight down.”
According to the report, the plane crashed in shallow section, only about two to eight feet deep. Only about two-thirds of the aircraft was recovered from the lake. The report stated there was no evidence of an in-flight fire. Plus, it was not equipped (nor was it required) with a flight data recorder or cockpit voice recorder.
NTSB said the pilot did have a commercial pilot certificate as well as a private pilot certificate.
The plane wreckage will continue to be examined. NTSB emphasized this is a preliminary report and updates and corrections will be made to the final report.