A small plane returning to Norfolk from Orlando, Florida (FL), on the afternoon of Monday, March 15, experienced catastrophic mechanical failures and killed a man on a Hilton Head, South Carolina (SC), beach when the plane’s pilot attempted an emergency landing.
plane crash Hilton Head killed
The Island Packet, which reports on news concerning Hilton Head, noted that the propeller of the single-engine Lancair IV-P came off and that the cockpit windshield became covered in engine oil before the pilot brought the plane down. The plane is registered in Chesapeake, Virginia (VA), and had flown from Hampton Roads Executive Airport to Orlando earlier in the day on Monday. Representatives of the National Transportation Safety Board are heading up the investigation into the fatal accident.

Determining why the engine died and the prop detached could take months. One conclusion could be that the plane was incorrectly constructed or maintained. The author of a Bend (OR) Bulletin article about accidents involving Lancair aircraft noted that the planes are kits that owners put together themselves. As a small plane pilot myself, I know that none of my flying colleagues would ever intentionally construct or operate an unsafe plane. I also know how complex a piece of machinery a plane is, though, and how easy it is to overlook small imperfections or problems waiting to happen.

According to the NTSB, 495 people died in general aviation accidents in the United States during 2008. These fatalities involved pilots, passengers and people on the ground. Each of the accidents had its specific cause — ranging from severe weather to pilot error and problems with the planes themselves. Each accident also ended one or more lives too soon.

My thoughts go out to the family and friends of the man killed Monday.