NTSB: No distress signal before Tupelo plane crash

TUPELO – Pilot David Duncan sent no distress signals before his fatal airplane crash Aug. 17 in a residential yard, according to a preliminary report issued Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The NTSB based its findings on first-hand observations, flight data and witness interviews, said Nicholas Worrell, and NTSB public information officer. A final report will take an additional six months to one year.
According to the NTSB, Duncan had clearance to take off around 8 a.m. from the Tupelo Regional Airport in a Cessna 310Q heading west.
He traveled the runway and lifted off, but shortly thereafter Duncan’s plane veered left and started to descend, the NTSB found.
“There were disagreements among the witness statements; some heard the engines lose power and others heard the engines still operating at low power,” according to the report. “The airplane flew under electrical power lines and over the airport’s perimeter fence, impacting the adjacent main road, separating all three of the landing gear.”
Airplane debris hit a passing vehicle on Coley Road.
The plane continued across the road and into a residential yard, where it smashed into a tree with such force that “the airplane’s front nose section, cockpit, and cabin area were crushed aft to the middle seat row.”
Duncan had sent no distress call and had no communication with the controller after his initial clearance to take off, the NTSB found.
He was pronounced dead at the scene. A preliminary autopsy later found no indication of a heart attack or any other health problems that might have caused the 69-year-old to lose control of the plane.
Duncan was an experienced pilot who flew for numerous clients in Mississippi and Alabama.
A thorough autopsy will be released in three or four months, said Lee County Coroner Carolyn Gillentine-Green.
NTSB investigators found no obvious problems with the flight control equipment and noted that all damage seemed consistent with crash impact.
The plane, which belongs to a Hamilton, Ala., company, had undergone maintenance at the Tupelo airport the day before the accident.
Tupelo Regional Airport Executive Director Josh Abramson had no comment on the preliminary findings.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal