Local News

Wreckage Of Russian Jet Shipped To Investigators

Posted Updated
Switch to classic wral.com

WILMINGTON, N.C. — Charred wreckage the Soviet MiG-15fighter that crashed in Columbus County have been shipped toGeorgia for analysis, investigators said Friday.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the FederalAviation Administration continued the investigation intoWednesday's crash, which killed the pilot, 61-year-old physicianTom Righetti of Miami.

The wreckage was removed Friday morning from a dense thicket ofpine trees on International Paper property about four miles offN.C. 211, south of Bolton, said Capt. Roy Norris of the ColumbusCounty Sheriff's Department.

Phil Powell, an NTSB air safety investigator, said wreckage wasen route to Griffin, Ga., south of Atlanta, where investigatorswill sift through it to try to determine the cause of the crash.

"We're kind of looking at everything and hope we'll be able toget a better feel for what happened,'' Powell said.

Powell said this particular investigation may be difficultbecause the MiG-15 is a foreign-built aircraft.

Investigators said at the scene that the plane crashed afterencountering bad weather. On his way to perform in the 2002 NeptuneFestival Air Show in Virginia Beach, Va., Righetti had taken offfrom Myrtle Beach after a brief stop Wednesday.

His last contact with air traffic controllers was around 1 or 2p.m. when he said he was in a storm and was returning to MyrtleBeach.

A military airplane enthusiast and a licensed pilot for 20years, Righetti was also the chairman and president of the WingsOver Miami Museum. He has flown jets like the Soviet-built MiG-15for about eight years, the museum's Internet site said.