North Carolina

Pilot doing aerial acrobatics went into a spin and crashed in western NC, feds say

The plane in a fatal crash near Asheville last month was flying erratically, stalling and going into a spin, a witness told federal investigators.

Two people, both licensed flight instructors, died in the June 26 plane crash near the Six Oaks Airport in Fletcher, North Carolina, state troopers said.

A private pilot who was watching the plane from his truck before the crash told investigators the plane was flying “erratic” before the crash, according to the initial report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

He said he saw “the airplane enter two ‘cascading [aerodynamic] stalls’ and then enter a ‘classic spin.’ The airplane completed one and a half turns in the spin, before it descended out of his view,” the NTSB said in the report.

Flight tracking data “showed the airplane complete a series of spiral descending turns” and then land at the Six Oaks Airport at 10:22 a.m., according to the report.

The GPS shows the plane took off again at 10:26 a.m. It crashed about two and a half minutes later, the NTSB said.

Those moves are similar to what you would see with a plane doing aerial acrobatics, called aerobatics.

Malachy Dady Beckham Jr., 76, and John Thomas Gaitskill, 72, both died in the crash about 11 miles from Asheville, McClatchy reported.

The men were in a small single-engine “Rans S-6 Coyote II light sport aircraft,” according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.