A Nov. 12 plane crash in Barren County, Kentucky, that killed all four people aboard was the result of “an in-flight break-up and collision with trees and terrain following a loss of control,” federal investigators said.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in its preliminary report on the plane crash that the 1965 Piper PA-32 descended from 7,000 feet to 2,800 feet in 30 seconds before it lost radar contact and crashed in a remote area near Fountain Run, about 80 miles north of Nashville in southeastern Kentucky.
The pilot-owner and three passengers were headed home to Somerset, Kentucky, from a hunting trip when the plane crashed. They departed from Union City, Tennessee, about 1:03 p.m., according to the NTSB’s report.
According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Kentucky State Police identified the plane crash victims as pilot-owner of the plane Scott T. Foster, 41, and his son, Noah Foster, 15, both of Science Hill, Kentucky, and Kyle P. Stewart, 41, and Quinton “Doug” Whitaker, 40, both of Somerset, Kentucky.
The airplane was flying east at about 5,500 feet for about 30 minutes before the radar showed a slight northeasterly turn. Just before 2 p.m. the radar showed the aircraft climbed to an altitude between 7,000 and 7,500 feet and made a series of left and right turns, the NTSB reported.
“Shortly thereafter, the radar track depicted an erratic series of left, right, and 180-degree turns before a sharp right turn. From that point, the radar target descended from about 7,000 feet to 2,800 feet over a 30-second span, before radar contact was lost in the area of the accident site,” the NTSB report states.
NTSB investigators said a witness described seeing the aircraft go “in a nosedive” before losing sight of it behind trees.
The airplane, registered to Mr. Foster and his wife Amy Foster, who was not on the plane when it crashed, was last inspected on Oct. 10, the NTSB said.
Investigators did not say if the weather may have been a factor in the plane crash, but they noted in the report that there was “a solid cloud layer between 2,000 feet and 8,000 feet mean sea level in the area surrounding the accident site.”