NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Thursday afternoon investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board released preliminary findings in the crash of a small plane that killed three people in North Myrtle Beach.
Investigator Bob Gretz said the NTSB was notified of the crash around 9:30 Wednesday night.
By Thursday afternoon investigators were on site at the crash off Little River Neck Road. Gretz said investigators will evaluate three main elements of the crash: the pilot and his record, certifications, history, etc.; the plane and its maintenance, equipment, etc.; and the environment such as weather conditions during the crash.
Gretz said a lot of time Thursday was spent making initial contact with people who could provide records about those three areas of interest. He said pilot Danny Carroll had traveled from Concord, NC, where he rented the plane that crashed. Carroll, his wife and granddaughter were making a return flight when the crashed happened Wednesday night. Although Carroll had experience flying, Gretz said there were no records showing that Carroll had flown that particular airplane before.
Information about Carroll's flight showed he was about five miles away from Grand Strand Airport and had finished his initial take off. Air traffic control then asked him to fly higher, and Carroll did not report any problems according to Gretz.
"The plane acknowledged that instruction and began to climb to six thousand feet," Gretz said. "No further communication was received from the pilot, and then the plane dropped off radar."
Investigators say looking through the wreckage may help them find any type of memory recording device. Gretz said small planes like the Piper Arrow that crashed do not have black boxes, but it may have had instruments installed similar to a global positioning system (GPS).
Witnesses will also help investigators piece together information about what may have caused the crash.
"Witnesses can be very helpful in describing the attitude of the aircraft as it was coming down, as it impacted, description of the airplane as it was flying, how it was flying, noises, sights, things that may have helped," Gretz said. "They can sort of fill in the gap where radar leaves off."
Investigators will return to the crash site Friday, and they plan to release a preliminary report in ten days. The plane wreckage will be stored, and final report will be finished in six to twelve months.