Local News

Investigators Look for Cause of Clayton Plane Crash

Posted September 22, 2007

— Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Administration were at McCall's BBQ and Seafood Restaurant in Clayton on Saturday.

The pilot of a single-engine plane died Friday morning when the aircraft crashed into the restaurant.

The wreckage was being recovered Saturday and will be transported to a secure location where the plane can be examined. Investigators are also looking into maintenance and pilot records.

"Here, in the building, the way it was, it's a little hard to discern the position of things," said Tim Monville, with the National Transportation Safety Board. "The wreckage will be recovered and taken to a secure location and then we're going to lay out the wreckage to try to determine if there are any failure or malfunctions of the flight controls, engine, or systems of the airplane."

Monville said it is still not known where the pilot was coming from when the plane slammed into the front of the popular restaurant, at 10365 U.S. Highway 70 West, shortly after 10 a.m. Friday.

The pilot's name hasn't been released yet. Monville said the pilot did not file a flight plan.

The Federal Aviation Administration registry lists the plane as a fixed-wing North American Navion built in 1947. It was registered to a man in Chantilly, Va.

The restaurant's parking lot was littered with debris, and the front wall of the building was knocked out. Pieces of wreckage also were found on Hobbs Street, which is the block behind the restaurant.

The cause of the accident wasn't known Saturday, but eyewitnesses said they thought the plane had engine trouble. Monville said the aircraft traveled more than 200 feet into the building and caught fire.

Ten McCall's employees were in the kitchen area, located in the back of the restaurant, at the time of the crash. One was taken to a nearby hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, but there were no other injuries, authorities said.

Fifteen fire and rescue crews and 20 police units responded to the accident scene, and U.S. 70 remained closed for hours as emergency personnel investigated.

All lanes of the highway were reopened by mid-afternoon Friday, but traffic was heavy and moving slowly through the area for a few hours after that, authorities said.


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  • MacsRule Sep 23, 2007

    Lady Blue, anytime a plane crashes into anything, it's going to be a story. Also, have you ever seen a story on two cars that almost hit each other? It's just a different element when it comes to stories about air craft. Two rungs below UFO sightings.

  • Foster W Sikes Sep 23, 2007

    Chuck Farley was correct. The pilot was flying illegally due to the conditions. It is as hard to stop that as it is for someone to stop someone from driving drunk. Pilots are trained to look at weather, over and over and over. It makes no sense why the person was flying Friday. Filing a flight plan is REQUIRED when flying IFR. No rules need to be changed as they were already in place.

  • KingDad Sep 23, 2007

    ladyblue, you’ve missed my point. I am 100% FOR YOU and ALL THE FOLKS who were involved in some way with story. This experience must have been frightfully horrible but why should the media continue to sensationalize it?

    Please read my last sentence... “The media needs to give all concerned their peace and rest this story. It’s not news any more.”

    I hope you understand my post was not directed AT you – it was written FOR you. I’m sorry if for some reason you took offense.

  • mrtwinturbo Sep 23, 2007

    (m1 + m2)P2 = (d1+d2)3 =R3
    The Law of Gravity caused the crash.....
    Sir Isaac Newton

  • MrPearce Sep 23, 2007

    ranquick: One other point. A tractor trailer could do a lot more damage, and it did last year into another restaurant in the area (can be looked up at WRAL more than likely).


    If we make light plane pilots file plans, then I think any car vehicle near the mass of a small plane should have to file a driving plan. That would make things fair.

    Oh and I am not a pilot myself, and have no pony in this horse race. I just hate regulation for the sake of regulation. Regulations would have done no good in this instance.

  • MrPearce Sep 23, 2007

    ranquick: Disagree. Recreational piloting is already pricey enough, with tons of red tape. It wouldn't have saved a single life had the flight plan been known in this instance. You can't tell a plane to divert if the plane's engine is not providing enough power to go to the new flight plan. Conservation of energy, and all that jazz. Just because you *want* something to be, doesn't mean it has to be that way.

  • ladyblue Sep 23, 2007

    CONT'D Would that have been a big enough story for you sir. Good evening and God Bless.

  • ladyblue Sep 23, 2007

    Sensationalism strikes again?

    Other than the given uniqueness of an airplane hitting a popular restaurant, this is not a two-day story, especially of the magnitude being given.

    When I last looked at WRAL.COM there were no less that TEN separate offerings on this same story two days after the accident.

    Any accidental death is tragic. What’s different here? It was an airplane in a restaurant instead of a car over a bridge. The auto fatality would not get this much coverage even if the car ran into the restaurant.

    The media needs to give all concerned their peace and rest this story. It’s not news any more.
    September 22, 2007 7:36 p.m.
    Report abuse
    Oh kingdaddy- Big Man--Wanted to thank you for your comment. This is the woman who was standing on her balcony watching a plane crashing knowing had the wing not dipped and it turn into restaurant it could have hit a resident apartment building I live in.

  • NCTeacher Sep 22, 2007

    It is a tragic story.

    But the fact that they still don't know the cause isn't really "news". "News" is when you find out something new or have an update.

  • Chuck U Farley Sep 22, 2007

    IFR conditions were prevalent at the time. Filing a IFR flight plan is REQUIRED in that situation.