NTSB: Plane Involved In Sunday's Crash Came Apart In Mid-Air
Posted April 2, 2002 5:31 a.m. EST
APEX, NC — The National Transportation Safety Board is trying to figure out why a small plane crashed in Wake County on Sunday.
Authorities said radio traffic between the pilot and the tower at RDU International was normal as the the twin-engine 1977 Piper plane approached for landing. An NTSB investigator said the plane literally came apart in the air, killing the two people on board.
Investigators have not released the names of the man and woman who died, but they said they have notified their families.
According to FAA papers, the plane is registered to Raleigh resident Louis Scheidt. A checkbook found near the crash also had his name on it.
Sheidt and his wife Debbie live in the Saddlebrook neighborhood in northern Wake County.
Wake County sheriff's deputies were in the neighborhood after the crash talking to some of the Sheidt's neighbors.
The bodies of the man and woman on board the plane have been taken to the medical examiner's office in Chapel Hill for positive identification.
Investigators have recovered all but one piece of the plane, which was scattered across three-quarters of a mile in Apex. They plan to reassemble the plane to investigate what caused the plane to break apart.
NTSB investigators say the plane was 10.5 miles away from RDU International when both wings and the tail separated from the plane. The flight originated in Brunswick, Ga.
Investigators are looking into several factors that may have contributed to the crash, including the weather and the plane's maintenance history.
Prior to the NTSB's 9 a.m. arrival, Wake County sheriff's deputies and the Civil Air Patrol spent Sunday night and Monday morning guarding the crash scene.
The eight-seater plane went down around 11:51 a.m. Sunday, about 100 yards behind a house on Wimberly Road in Apex.
Witnesses said they saw a wing fall off the plane before it crashed. They also said they heard the sound of an explosion, but there was no smoke or fire.
Neighborhood resident David Biddy said he heard the plane hit the ground.
Biddy and some other teenage boys who live nearby grabbed a camera and ran to the crash site.
They said there was one large piece of the plane, with many small pieces scattered, some in nearby yards.