Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

October 7, 2011

Plane crashes in Wythe- Pilot killed in accident

RURAL RETREAT, Va. — Officials are still investigating what caused a small, home-made plane to crash in a field near the Wythe and Smyth County lines, which claimed the life of the plane’s sole occupant.

The single-seater 2003 Rand Robinson KR-2 plane crashed around 1:16 p.m. Thursday in a field in Wythe County, around half of a mile northeast of the Mountain Empire Airport in Smyth County, according to Sgt. M.T. Conroy with the Virginia State Police. The identity of the plane’s pilot has not been released by police. “We are waiting on a positive identification from the medical examiner’s office before we can release any information on the pilot,” Conroy said. “We do know the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lists the plane as an experimental, amateur build. The plane was a six-wing single-engine aircraft.”

Conroy said the plane “incinerated on impact” but there were no nearby structures or buildings impacted. The crash was reported to local emergency dispatch several times from many callers along Interstate 81 as the crash was visible from the roadway. The Virginia State Police Aviation Unit also flew around the scene to find any debris or indicators of what might have caused the crash, Conroy said.

“Ultimately, the crash will be investigated by the FAA and NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board),” Conroy said. “The state police takes the initial aircraft crash report, notify next of kin and secures the scene. The NTSB will come out with the official report, which takes a few months. They are called any anytime a plane catches fire or there is a fatal crash. They will be doing a reconstruction of the scene for their report.”

According to Conroy, flying is still considered one of the safest forms of travel.

“Flying, statistically, is very safe and that is why they investigate any crashes like this so thoroughly,” Conroy said. “They are very thorough with what they do and they want to identify any issues there might have been so they can fix them and prevent this from happening again.”

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