Early investigation reveals no problem with crashed plane
Friday, 21 January 2011 22:50

Betty Papale took her dogs for a walk in the Briarcliffe R.V. Resort Thursday afternoon, a small sign things are slowly returning to normal for folks in there after a plane crash disrupted their normally quiet community Tuesday. With the wreckage still on the ground though, Papale and her friends are constantly reminded of the tragedy that took two lives.

"I opened the door, and the trailer was already ablaze," Papale said recalling her first sight of the crash. "Flames were pouring out."

With those traumatic memories there are also questions that investigators with the National Transportation Safety board are trying to answer. They have examined the wreckage and done what they call a two dimensional reconstruction of the plane.

"We've laid out the components that we have from the airplane in the positions that they were supposed to be mounted in, and that's the way that we use in order to be able to determine what we call all four corners of the airplane," said lead investigator Todd Gunther. "So the aircraft itself - all its major components - are here on site."

Gunther said it appears the controls and the engine of the plane were working normally. An initial evaluation of the instruments also revealed no problems.

"We have not found any evidence of any type of pre-impact malfunction or failure of the aircraft," Gunther said.

Investigators will also look into the possibility that something could have gone wrong with the pilot. They will examine medical records as part of the investigation.

"That's one of the things we're looking into," Gunther said. "We'll be receiving a full medical package that will give us the background physiology on the pilot and then also it will give us information about his medical examinations."

Other information such as the pilot's flight history and the amount of fuel in the plane is still under investigation. Investigators will remove the wreckage on Friday and store it for the investigation. The NTSB will release a preliminary report in 7 to 9 days.  A final report and a probable cause determination on the crash will likely take 9 months to a year.

Although the information is slow-coming people who live in the community say having some answers helps in some way put the tragedy behind them.

"I'm sure that it will help some people, especially the people that were really close," Papale said.

Grief counselors were also in the resort Thursday to help anyone overcome the emotional trauma of the crash. About a dozen people sought help from a counselor Thursday.


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