A preliminary investigation of the Maryland airplane crash that killed six people Monday morning in Gaithersburg found no evidence of engine trouble aboard the private jet, nor was there any indication that birds passed through the engine as some earlier reports speculated.
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator Robert Sumwalt said in a press conference that the airplane, a 2009 Embraer EMB-500/Phenom 100 twin-engine jet registered to Sage Aviation of Chapel Hill, N.C., slowed to a near-stall in the moments before plummeting to the ground.
Data from the airplane’s “black box” showed that an aerodynamic stall warning sounded 20 minutes before the plane hit a home about one mile from the Montgomery County Airpark runway, where it was supposed to land. The stall warning prompted the pilot to pull back on throttle. The NTSB said the engines responded accordingly.
Witnesses said the plane was flying low, fast, and erratically. “I thought ‘this doesn’t look right,'” one witness told a local TV station. “Three seconds later it was like a bomb exploded.”
Reports say the plane pitched and rolled drastically before nose-diving and crashing into the house upside-down.
Dr. Michael J. Rosenberg, the presumed pilot, was killed on impact along with the two other occupants of the airplane, David Hartman, 52, and Chijioke Ogbuka, 31. The three men, all residents of Raleigh, were flying from Chapel Hill, N.C., to Gaithersburg when the crash occurred.
Marie Gemmel, 36, and her two young sons Cole, 3, and Devon, 1 month, were also killed when the airplane struck their house. According to WHAT, Ms. Gemmel was found in a second-floor bedroom lying on top of the boys in an apparent effort to shield them from the fire and smoke. Her husband and daughter were not at home when the plane crashed and survived.
Dr. Rosenberg, described as an experienced pilot by those who knew him, survived a plane crash in 2010 near the same airport.