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Aircraft inspected two days before crashing in Socastee field, preliminary report says

Published: Jun. 4, 2021 at 5:36 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report into a small plane crash in Socastee last month that killed one person.

According to the report, parts of the plane were installed upside-down, while the aircraft’s most recent inspection happened on May 19, two days before the crash.

Fire crews were called around 6:15 p.m. on May 21 to the 3800 block of Socastee Boulevard, near Highway 17, where the small plane went down in a field.

The Horry County Coroner’s Office previously identified the victim as 60-year-old James Marklin Harper. He was the only person onboard at the time of the crash. No other injuries were reported.

RELATED: ‘He was always there for me’: Son of pilot killed in Socastee Blvd. plane crash remembers him

According to the NTSB report, the Piper PA-31P airplane took off from the Myrtle Beach International Airport at 6:12 p.m. on May 21 and was heading to Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach.

Once airborne, the controller instructed the pilot to turn left. The pilot, however, said he needed to return to the runway, transportation officials said.

“About 1 minute after the pilot requested to return to the runway, the controller asked if any assistance was required, to which the pilot replied, ‘yes, we’re in trouble,’” the NTSB report stated. “There was no further radio communications from the pilot.”

The May 21 flight was the plane’s first since its inspection, the report states. It also noted that the aircraft’s elevator trim tabs were installed upside-down and reversed.

The report does not reveal exactly what caused the crash. A final report will be released at a later date.

Read the report below:

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