Witnesses paint picture of plane crash

As plane approached airport its wings were at an almost 90-degree angle, one man said.


Published: Friday, January 29, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 11:06 p.m.

A witness to an Ohio plane crash earlier this month, which killed two North Florida men and the parents of an Alachua County businessman, said its wings were at almost a 90-degree angle relative to the ground as the aircraft approached the airport.

The information was part of a preliminary report into the Jan. 18 airplane crash released by the National Transportation Safety Board on Wednesday. The wreck killed pilot Wesley Roemer, 30, of Keystone Heights, chief mechanic and co-pilot John Mengelson, 46, of Florahome, and Donald A. Brown, 89, and his wife, Shirley, 87, the parents of Kenneth Brown, the owner of Kenn Air in Gainesville.

The couple had been returning home from Gainesville when the crash occurred.

The witness, who was waiting for the plane to land at the Lorain County Regional Airport, said the plane was rolling to the left into a steep left turn with the wings at almost a 90-degree angle relative to the ground.

"He stated that a 'huge cloud of snow' was created by the subsequent impact, and when it cleared he observed the airplane wreckage at the west end of the airport property," the report stated.

Another witness said he was at his home near the airport when he heard the plane and looked out a window to see it about 150 feet above the ground and at about an 80-degree angle relative to the ground, banking to the right.

Two North Florida pilots, who were provided information from the NTSB report, said the plane apparently was not in a level position to make a safe landing.

The report also said Roemer had attempted to come in for a landing shortly before the crash but executed a missed approach, meaning he decided at that point not to make the landing.

The local pilots, who did not want to use their names, said it is not uncommon for a pilot to call off a landing at a certain height and then come back around and try again to land an aircraft.

Visibility that afternoon was two miles with a cloud layer starting at 500 feet, according to the NTSB. Weather conditions were described in the report as instrument meteorological conditions, which means a pilot would fly by referencing the plane's instruments. An instrument flight rules plan had been filed for the plane.

The NTSB investigation to determine the cause of the crash could take more than a year to complete.

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