Witnesses detail moments leading to fatal LaGrange plane crash

Photo source: LaGrange Daily News
Photo source: LaGrange Daily News

LAGRANGE, GA (WTVM) - The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report regarding the fatal Feb. 22 crash of a Beech B55, N36638, at the LaGrange-Callaway Airport in LaGrange.

Vincent Rossetti, 60, Willy Lutz, 69, and Jeffrey Curtis, 53, were killed in the crash.

Several witnesses who observed the accident provided statements. Many saw the plane fuel in the front terminal at LaGrange-Callaway Airport and depart less than an hour before the crash.

Glider-tow planes were flying on the intersecting runway that morning. Witnesses noticed there was a towplane on the runway and a glider on tow flying above the runway. One witness felt that if the Beech B55 sidestepped the runway it would have avoided a conflict with the towplane.

One witness says he saw the plane fly about 2,000 feet past the runway during its final approach to land, and said it was "bobbing" and "searching for ground". He says the plane accelerated suddenly to full power and pitched up into a steep climb before banking left and inverting. The plane continued turning until it hit the ground nose-down at an 80 to 90-degree angle.

He added, "The airplane never touched down, he was in a flare, and he floated a long way, because his speed was excessive."

Just before the crash, several witnesses recall hearing an "Abort! Abort!" transmission over the common traffic advisory frequency.

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