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Mon, Feb 04, 2008

Investigators Say CVR May Shed Light Into NC King Air Downing

NTSB Rules Out Several Possible Causes

Federal investigators have recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the Beech King Air which crashed Friday morning near the Mount Airy-Surry County Airport (MWK), killing all six aboard.

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) official said it could be more than a week before they make any preliminary determinations on what caused the plane to crash, reports the Mount Airy News.

On Saturday afternoon, NTSB investigator Todd Gunther said officials had ruled out a fire, engine failure, structural defects, or a possible health issue with the pilot as factors in the crash. The recorder will be sent to the NTSB laboratory in Washington DC for analysis.

The twin-engine turboprop Beechcraft King Air C-90A was enroute from Cedartown, GA to Mount Airy, NC. Those onboard planned to land and drive to Primland, a 14,000 acre golf and hunting resort in nearby Claudville, VA.

NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said Saturday new radar information indicates the plane overshot the runway on its initial approach, then veered left before crashing into a residential area, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Killed in the crash were Hal Echols, 57; Robert Butler, 49; Frank Ruggiero, 52; Steve Simpson, 46; John Wesley Rakestraw, 50; and Tony Gunter, 46. All six men were reportedly prominent civic and business leaders in Paulding County, GA.

Backing up initial reports about weather conditions at the time of the crash, as reported by ANN, investigators confirmed low visibility near the airport as the King Air came in to land, and rain and snow in the area.

The plane fell into a grassy area between two homes, narrowly avoiding both houses. No one on the ground was hurt.

After officials conclude their onsite investigation Tuesday, the aircraft wreckage will be taken to Atlanta for further research.

"What will happen is we will take the aircraft and actually lay it out on the floor," said NTSB investigator Todd Gunther. "It could be another nine months to a year before members of the NTSB issue a final report."

The Mount Airy/Surry County Airport is located approximately 37 miles northwest of Greensboro, and is served by a GPS and an NDB approach.

The King Air was registered to Blue Sky Airways, owned by John Wesley Rakestraw. It is not yet known who was flying the airplane.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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