NTSB issues preliminary crash report
by Kellen Moore
No flight plan was filed for the Piel Emeraude CP-305, an amateur-built plane registered in Canada, according to the preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board, a federal agency that investigates transit accidents to form safety recommendations.
According to the report, pilot Maxwell Dares of Toronto departed from Johnson County Airport in Mountain City, Tenn., en route to the Asheville Regional Airport.
"According to the pilot, he was navigating along a river when he encountered a 90-degree bend," the report states. "He decided to climb the airplane over a mountain rather than continue to follow the river, as it provided a more direct course to his destination.
"As the airplane began to climb, the pilot noted that the engine began to lose power. The pilot directed the airplane toward a low point among the trees, but the airplane descended and made a 'controlled crash' into the trees."
Dares suffered only minor injures and was taken to Watauga Medical Center.
Dares is a captain in the Royal Canadian Air Force on exchange with the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, according to 1st Lt. Megan Greathouse, but was flying on personal time.
While the report lists Mountain City, Tenn., as Dares' most recent departure point, he also left from the Ashe County Airport around 6 p.m. that evening, according to airport manager Eric Payne.
"He did talk like he was going to go over the Mountain City, now, I don't know if that occurred," Payne said last week.
The trip from Jefferson to Mountain City, Tenn., would take about seven to 10 minutes by air, Payne said. The plane went down around 6:40 p.m.
The preliminary report is an early step in an investigation that could take 12 to 18 months, according to NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway. Information in the preliminary report is subject to change, it states.