Greensburg plane crash investigation moves indoors
Federal investigators have moved their investigation of a fatal plane crash indoors.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are in Greensburg to investigate a crash that killed four people Sunday evening. They were able to remove the wreckage from a steep hill in a wooded area to a county fair barn near the Greensburg airport before rain moved in. The barn will provide a safer, drier area for investigators to examine the wreckage.
They are checking for mechanical failures in the plane or other clues that may help explain the crash.
Investigators say it is still very early in an investigation that may take months to complete and, so far, nothing is jumping out at them.
"Everything in an accident investigation, sometimes, is alarming, glaring, but we have to just collect the facts and then take the facts and produce our report. All accidents have their little elements of 'This is unique or this is different,' but for right now, nothing is anymore unusual than any other accident investigation we have. There's nothing that's standing out to us that's screaming 'This is a problem' or 'This is a concern.' Right now, we're just collecting the facts," said Stuart Bothwell, NTSB.
The weather at the time of the crash has been described as foggy, with a misting rain. Investigators will look into if weather conditions played a factor in the crash. They will also look at the training, experience and health records of pilot Don Horan.
While the NTSB conducts its official investigation, local airport officials are piecing together their own information of what occurred Sunday night.
"The ceiling was low and the visibility was poor. A plane approaching the airport, even with runway lights on, would have to be very, very close to landing before you could even see the runway. Probably a hundred or two hundred feet," said Jon Dooley, vice president of the Greensburg Board of Aviation.
Dooley says visibility was so poor another pilot attempting to land earlier Sunday missed the runway approach and landed in Columbus instead.
"I can only presume he couldn't see the runway, because that's why he would pull up. If he could see the runway on his glide path, at that altitude, he would have landed," he said.
Dooley, a pilot himself, says prior to the crash, homeowners heard the plane flying low, circling the airport.
"Maybe three times and they would come back at a low altitude, no doubt so he would try to see what is going on, trying to find the runway," he said.
It appears as if the plane crossed the end of the runway, skipped across an empty field and into a wooded area.
Horan, his wife Barbara and another couple, Stephen and Denise Butz, were killed in the crash as they returned from Destin, Florida.
There will be a combined visitation held for the four victims Thursday at St. Mary's Catholic School in Greensburg. A combined memorial Mass will be held Friday at 10 a.m. at Greensburg Community High School.