The National Transportation Safety Board released the preliminary report concerning the plane crash that took the lives of 4 people in Barren County on November 12th. The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but the NTSB says the pilot did not possess an instrument rating for the weather conditions at the time of the crash.
The NTSB says the pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, but did not possess an instrument rating. The NTSB says the pilot's most recent FAA Third class medical certificate was issued on October 17, 2014. The pilot's logbook revealed the pilot had logged 251 total hours of flight experience, of which 246 were in the accident airplane make and model.
The 1965 Piper PA 32-260 crashed near the Fountain Run community taking the lives of attorney Scott Foster, Dr. Kyle Stewart, who was a dentist, Somerset Police Chaplain Doug Whitaker, and Foster's 15-year-old son Noah. All of the victims were from Pulaski County, and investigators say they were returning home from a hunting trip in Union City,Tennessee.
The plane was registered to Scott Foster.
The NTSB preliminary report also says no flight plan had been filed for the flight, which departed from Tennessee around 1 p.m. and crashed in Barren County an hour later.
The report also states the pilot did not obtain a weather briefing from Lockheed Flight Services or through the Direct User Access Terminal Service before departure.
The report says the plane was in an eastbound cruise flight, at about 5,500 feet for about 30 minutes, before the radar track depicted a slight turn to a northeasterly heading. The report says the plane then climbed to around 7,000 feet, before the radar track showed an erratic series of turns. The plane then descended more than 4,000 feet in a 30 second span, before radar contact was lost.
The NTSB report says a witness near the crash site described seeing the plane "in a nosedive" before he lost sight of it behind a line of trees.
The NTSB says weather observations at the time of the crash indicated a solid cloud layer between 2,000 and 8,000 feet.
The NTSB says all major components of the plane were accounted for at the scene of the crash, except the left aileron balance weight, left tip tank, the stabilator trim tab, and about six feet of the right wing and right aileron.
The NTSB says the engine was separated from the airframe, and the propeller was separated from the engine. The carburetor and the fuel pump were destroyed by the impact of the crash.
FAA and maintenance records indicate the plane had accrued more than 2,776 aircraft hours. The most recent annual inspection was completed on October 10.