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NTSB report yields new crash details

WASHINGTON, DC- The National Transportation Safety Board posted a report Thursday on the Feb. 12 plane crash, in a Porter neighborhood, that killed a prominent Austin couple. According to the report, Dan and Rheta Williams left Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) around 5 p.m., with commercial rated pilot Dan Williams having filed a visual flight rules flight plan. They were destined for Williams Airport off of FM 1314, where the winds were calm, and the skies were clear with 10 mile visibility, according the NTSB.

The report quotes a written statement by the airport manager as saying Dan Williams contacted her earlier on the day of the crash asking about trees located at the airport and she told him “a considerable amount of trees had been cleared on the south end of the runway and some trees had been cleared to the north.” She stated she recommended using runway 35 “if the winds permitted.” For whatever reason, Williams was approaching runway 17, which is 3,594 feet long, in his twin engine Beech 95-55A when something went wrong. The airport manager was watching, according to the report, and said the plane appeared to be higher than expected and “seemed to float for an unusually long period.”

“By midpoint on the runway, it seemed unlikely that he would be able to complete the landing successfully,” the airport manager wrote.

Her account says she heard a power increase on the engines and the plane began to climb, “and bank to the right before it nosed over and descended into the trees.”
The airport manager said she didn’t hear or see anything to indicate there was a problem with the engines.

However, another unidentified witness told NTSB investigators she saw “smoke under the right side of the airplane before it disappeared from her view.”

The document also gives the account of a retired State Trooper who was talking with the airport manager at the time of the crash, and his account was similar to hers, with an added notation that he noticed the runway was “free of obstruction” as the plane descended. Then, the engine power increased and the plane began climbing.

“It was lifting above the tree line on the south end of the runway, when it made a sharp roll to the right and appeared to nose dive behind the tree line,” He stated. “We all heard the crash.”

The report states investigators on-scene on Feb. 13 and 14 found all major components of the plane at the crash site, with extensive impact damage and the outboard section of the right wing and the left engine separated from the airframe. The plane came to rest approximately 80 feet from the initial point of impact, which was with a group of trees about 60’ tall.

The document describes Dan Williams as an experienced pilot who had a “commercial pilot certificate for airplane single and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane,” and had logged 2300 flight hours as of July 21, 2008.

The report offers no preliminary explanation for the crash.

To read the full report, click the link below:
NTSB Report

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