The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report on the ongoing investigation into what led to a plane crash on Johns Island in March.
JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report on the ongoing investigation into what led to a plane crash on Johns Island in March.
According to the preliminary report, a Piper PA-28-161, left Conway-Horry County Airport in Conway, South Carolina at approximately 12:10 p.m. It was en route to Palatka, Florida.
The report states at around 12:43 p.m. an air traffic controller asked the pilot, later identified as 66-year-old Andrew Patterson, of Cutler, Maine, if he wanted to remain at his current altitude or if he wanted to climb higher. Patterson said that he wanted to stay low to maintain visual flight rules (VFR) “due to any clouds up ahead,” the report states.
The report states at 12:51 p.m., the controller noticed the plane started to turn right and descend. They asked Patterson if he was maneuvering to stay below clouds. Patterson responded “Mayday Mayday... in the clouds... I’m going down.” That was the final communication from Patterson, according to the report.
Witnesses told officials they heard a high-pitched whining noise from the plane that was descending nose-first at a high rate of speed, according to the report. A witness told officials that mud was flying up in the air, and he heard several “chopping” sounds, which he believed was the propeller in the mud, according to the report. The witness also noted that the weather was overcast, “almost as if it was going to rain.”
The plane crashed into a marsh area near the Stono River between James and Johns Islands, approximately 1.6 miles southwest of the Charleston Executive Airport.
The report states Patterson held a private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land. Patterson’s last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third class medical certificate was issued on March 3, 2022, according to the report. At that time, he reported a total of 740 flight hours.
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