PHILIPSBURG – Lack of visibility appears to have been a contributing factor that caused a small plane to crash June 26 near Mid-State Airport near Philipsburg.
A preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board does not spell out exactly what went wrong in the crash, but it does give many details as to what the crash site looked like when investigators arrived, weather conditions at the time the plane went missing and actions taken by the pilot.
The plane, a Piper Arrow, took off from Springfield-Robertson County Airport in Tennessee at 10:40 p.m. June 25. Weather conditions forced the pilot to use the plane’s instruments to fly — instead of using sight — and he was given clearance to land at Mid-State Airport at about 2:50 a.m. June 26.
The report also shows that the plane crashed only about one-half mile left of the centerline of the runway. The NTSB also said that the pilot made several “S” turns before the crash — such a maneuver shows that the pilot was attempting to correct his course for landing. In addition, the report shows that the pilot did not follow recommended procedure for using his instruments when landing.
At the time the plane is believed to have gone down, the NTSB report shows that conditions were overcast with visibility of about 2.5 miles at State College Airport, about 11 air miles east of Mid-State. State College Airport is, however, more than 700 feet lower in elevation than Mid-State Airport.
Mid-State Airport is not staffed overnight, and pilots must remotely control runway lights to land.
The place where the plane went down was 11 feet lower than the elevation of Mid-State Airport.
Information from the NTSB shows that the airplane was last inspected about two months prior to the accident.
All of the major components of the craft were found at the scene. Investigators reported that both of the plane’s wings were sheared off, and a 210-foot swath of land was found to have been the path the plane took while coming to the ground.
Reports showed that the plane’s landing gear was down and locked, findings that coincide with the pilot’s plan to land at Mid-State Airport.
The NTSB will release more information when their final report is completed.
The plane’s pilot, 21-year-old Kaul M. Wilson, of Tennessee, was killed in the accident.
Three others, Justin Hughes, 18, Fayez Abdel, 33, and Mohamed Abdel-Khalik, 31, all of Tennessee, were injured in the accident and were transported to Altoona Regional Health System.
Media reports from the Associated Press after the incident revealed that Abdel-Khalik was en route to the Moshannon Valley Correctional Institution near Philipsburg to turn himself in to serve a six-month sentence. He was sentenced for illegally using a Texas resident’s birth certificate to obtain a passport. Abdel-Khalik is not a U.S. citizen and is not eligible for a U.S. passport.
Abdel-Khalik was attempting to take a commercial flight from Tennessee to Pennsylvania to turn himself in when many of the major carriers’ flights were canceled due to low visibility.
The Associated Press also reported that Abdel had been taking flying lessons from Wilson, but Abdel was not yet able to fly on his own.
Because of that, Abdel asked his ground school instructor, Wilson, to fly a used plane Abdel recently purchased.
Hughes, Abdel and Abdel-Khalik were not listed as patients at Altoona Regional Medical Center Friday morning.