The FAA is investigating the crash of a small experimental plane that went down in a rain-soaked cornfield in Harmony Twp., Clark County, Friday morning (July 22), killing a husband and wife from Dearborn, Mich.:
- Dead are Levon King, 81, and Gloria King, 85
- The FAA lost contact with plane just before 11 a.m.
- Unclear if crash was weather-related, officials say
- Mr. King was a longtime political figure in Michigan
- Preliminary crash report released on Aug. 2
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UPDATE 8:33 a.m. (Aug. 2):
The preliminary crash report from the fatal plane crash that killed a pilot and passenger in Clark County last month has been released by the National Transportation Safety Board.
According to the report, rain and thunderstorms were in the area around the time the plane crashed seven miles east of Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.
A witness told investigations she observed the airplane approximately 300 to 500 feet above her home as the aircraft flew east-northeast, according to the report.
“The airplane was in a steep descent and disappeared behind a tree line when she heard the sound of an impact,” the report read. “She also heard the sound of the engine operating before the airplane disappeared behind the trees.”
The plane had departed Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Tennessee around 8:50 a.m. and was en route to Grosse Ile Municipal Airport near Detroit when it crashed in the cornfield.
The exact cause of the crash was not disclosed in the preliminary report and the aircraft has been retained for further examination.
The FAA has taken over the investigation because of the known circumstances around the crash, NTSB Air Safety Investigator Joshua Lindberg said Friday night.
The pilot, believed to be 81-year-old Levon King, of Dearborn, Mich., was communicating with air traffic controllers in Columbus but investigators still had no information on the departure location or where King was headed.
Thunderstorms and lightning were in the area for much of the morning, but investigators don’t yet know whether King indicated distress because of the weather, Lindberg said. “That will all be known once we get the tapes,” he said.
A preliminary crash report should be available from the FAA, via the NTSB, next week, Lindberg said.
According to the Ohio Highway Patrol Springfield post, the single-engine Vans/RV-9A crashed in a rain-soaked cornfield in the 3200 block of Newlove Road in Harmony Twp., Clark County.
FAA officials told the state patrol they lost contact with the plane by radio and on radar about 10:51 a.m. Clark County sheriff’s dispatchers said they received calls after witnesses said they heard a crash and possibly saw smoke.
The state patrol brought in its helicopter and ATVs were used to help locate the plane, which came to rest in heavy vegetation and crops. Troopers and personnel from Harmony Twp. Fire and EMS and Clark County sheriff’s deputies worked together to find the wreckage after searching for roughly 30 minutes.
Rescuers described the scene as horrific, patrol Lt. Brian Aller said.
Troopers and investigators with the NTSB and Civil Air Patrol were at the site late into Friday night. The remains of the plane were towed to Springfield.
The News Herald, in Southgate, Mich., reports that Levon King was a longtime downriver political figure, having served as mayor of Allen Park and as city administrator in Southgate. He retired from public life in 2009.
He owned the RV-9A, according to the News Herald.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Reporter Jason Alley, The News Herald, Southgate, Mich., contributed to this report.