Local News

Callers flooded 911 with reports of plane crash

Posted March 31, 2011 12:38 p.m. EDT
Updated March 31, 2011 5:06 p.m. EDT

— The residents of a High Point neighborhood flooded 911 with calls as they tried to figure out what caused a fireball in a wooded area Wednesday evening.

"Something just blew up, and there's fire around," a woman said.

Two people died when a small plane operated by Charlotte-based Jet Logistics plunged into a house on Dairy Point Drive in the Frazier Downs subdivision, about 3 miles from  Piedmont Triad International Airport.

"A plane has crashed in our neighborhood," a second caller calmly reported. 

"We heard a boom, and then there was fire," a third caller described.

The plane was bound from Wilmington to Winston-Salem and was carrying Thomas Littlejohn III, of Winston-Salem, a longtime physician at Maplewood Family Practice. Littlejohn was president of PMG, a clinical research firm, and was flying on company business, his brother said Thursday.

The identity of the pilot has not been released. In air traffic control audio, she can be heard discussing the weather and visibility. When an air traffic controller told her that visibility in Greensboro was about 100 feet, the pilot said, "That's not going to help much, is it?" 

The plane was heading for Winston-Salem but was rerouted to Greensboro because of bad weather, said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Atlanta. The National Weather Service reported heavy fog in the area at the time, with visibility as low as a quarter mile.

The official cause of the crash of the Beech BE 58 aircraft will be determined by the National Transportation Safety Board, and the full report is not expected for months.

Dennis Diaz, investigator in charge for the NTSB, said Thursday that his team had completed an initial assessment of the wreckage and the crash site. Investigators will also consider what the weather conditions were at the time of the crash, Diaz said. 

"A detailed review of the weather will come later," Diaz said. "Right now, we’re here to gather wreckage and all information we can so that we can return the neighborhood to some semblance of normalcy."

The plane was owned by a Raleigh-based charter company, JetLogistics. Officials from that company were cooperating in the investigation, the NTSB said.