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NTSB Prelim Out On Puzzling Debonair Crash

Some questions are answered. Many more remain.

Photo via ABC 7 Eyewitness News.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued its first report on the puzzling February 24 crash of a 1965 Beech Debonair in Pennsylvania. While findings are subject to change as the Board investigates, this preliminary report clarifies a few questions about the conditions surrounding the crash. Both occupants, the 55-year-old pilot and his instructor, 74, were killed.

On the question of weather, the NTSB provided a solid meteorological report for the time of the crash. Conditions are listed as overcast at 3,900 AGL, 10 miles visibility, calm winds, and temperature of 1 degree Celsius. While some have speculated icing may have contributed to the loss of control, it appears the flight took place below the start of visible moisture, despite the low freezing level for the day. For its part, the NTSB has not yet made any mention of potential icing for the engine, airframe, or otherwise.

The report does mention ADS-B tracking data and refers to the accident sequence by stating, “The airplane was performing maneuvers about 2,000 ft mean sea level when it entered a left spin and descended into a residential street.” The report later states that control continuity was confirmed and damage to the propeller blades suggests the engine produced power until impact. Footage and audio from a nearby home security camera certainly conveyed a sense of high engine revs as the airplane descended.

The flight was formally listed as “Instructional” by the Board since the owner-pilot was practicing with his CFI for the Commercial Pilot check ride after having passed the written exam.




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