ANDREWS, N.C. (AP) — A private pilot and a passenger were killed earlier this month when the small plane they were in collided with pine trees in North Carolina, the National Transportation Safety Board said in its preliminary report.
The single-engine Beech S35 was flying from Liberty, Texas, to Franklin, North Carolina, on Oct. 3 when the unidentified pilot diverted to Western Carolina Regional Airport in Andrews due to weather conditions, according to the report issued Wednesday.
A witness on the ramp said the pilot started descending to the runway from the wrong side and was too fast in his first landing approach so he had to try again. After successfully landing at the airport, the pilot purchased fuel, received a weather briefing and filed a flight plan to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Soon after departing, the plane collided with tall pine trees. It continued for another 600 feet (183 meters) before hitting another tree and was destroyed just before 8 p.m., the report says.
The plane hit the terrain steeply with its nose low and came to a rest upside down. The wing flaps were retracted despite all three landing gear being extended.
A witness told the safety board that the pilot had recently transitioned from a different plane that had fixed landing gear. He purchased the new plane in June.