The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report on its investigation into a plane crash that killed the pilot, Mark Rich of Menlo Park, and destroyed a home-built plane he was flying from San Carlos to Oregon for the solar eclipse in August.
The plane Mr. Rich was flying, a single-engine Wheeler Express, crashed into a canyon wall near the Madras Municipal Airport in Madras, Oregon, around 1:55 p.m. on Aug. 19.
He was flying in for the Oregon Solarfest and was planning to camp at the airport.
Mr. Rich followed instructions on approach and the air traffic controller cleared him to land. Shortly after that, the controller saw a column of smoke nearby, according to the report.
Witnesses told investigators that the plane had turned and gone in to a nose-dive before crashing into a slight ravine in the canyon wall, roughly 1.1 nautical miles from the runway, where the terrain was made up primarily of soft dirt and trees, the report found.
Freshly severed tree limbs were found near the crash site.
The cabin of the plane was completely burned by fire. The wreckage had severe thermal damage on the right wing, engine and the remains of the fuselage. Investigators recovered it for further examination.
NTSB officials stressed that this is a preliminary report, and any errors in it will be corrected in the final version, which has not yet been released.
– Bay City News Service