Engine trouble may have led to Calera plane crash
Published 12:06 pm Friday, September 4, 2015
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
CALERA – Engine trouble may have led to a fatal plane crash near the Shelby County Airport on Aug. 27, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board issued on Sept. 3.
Vestavia Hills resident John Wyatt, 38, died when his Cirrus SR22 single-engine airplane crashed near the Shelby County Airport behind Central State Bank on Shelby County 87 shortly after 7 p.m. on Aug. 27. The plane crashed in a field slightly south of the airport’s runway, and burst into flames after contacting the ground.
Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley said several people in the area witnessed the crash, and many stopped and rushed to the crash scene in an attempt to rescue the pilot.
In its preliminary report, the NTSB said witnesses reported the plane was flying “very low” before it “descended straight down.”
“In addition, it sounded like the airplane was having ‘throttle issues,’ and the engine noise ‘just stopped,” the NTSB wrote, referencing witness statements.
While the NTSB investigators were examining the crash scene, they discovered the airplane’s engine “exhibited thermal damage near cylinder No. 2,” possibly indicating the engine suffered damage before the plane crashed.
“The engine was retained for further examination,” read the report. “In addition, the Avidyne primary flight display, multifunction display, and DFC 90 Autopilot were retained and sent to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory for data download.”
The flight departed from the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport at about 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 27, and crashed about 1,700 feet south of the Shelby County Airport runway while attempting to land.
The plane “impacted several trees that were approximately 40 feet tall prior to impacting the ground” before it “came to rest in a nose-down attitude about 10 feet from the initial tree strikes” and bursting into flame, read the report.
As of Sept. 4, the crash was still being investigated by the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration. Neither had made a final determination on the cause of the crash.