A National Transportation Safety Board report confirms weather as a factor in last month's Breathitt County plane crash. The crash killed seven members of a Texas family with connections here in Eastern Kentucky. The report details what happened leading up to the August 28th crash and how much experience the pilot had.
Much of the N.T.S.B.'s preliminary report focuses on weather conditions in the moments before the crash. The report says pilot Jason Christie called the Wendell Ford Airport in Hazard around 2:30 p.m. The operator on duty told the pilot that weather conditions included a thousand foot overcast, with 2 miles visibility, and dropping fast. In the next twenty minutes the report says the weather conditions had deteriorated significantly to 1/4 mile visibility and a 200 foot overcast. During that time, the operator received two phone calls. One call came from an Indianapolis Center reporting that a plane had disappeared from their radar. The second came from Kentucky State Police about a reported plane crash along the Perry and Breathitt County line.
The report also gives details about Jason Christie's experience as a pilot. He had a private pilot certificate and at the time of the crash. A friend says he was flying as much as four to five times a week. Christie did not have an IFR rating. That rating certifies pilots to fly using only their equipment when visibility is limited. An IFR rating is not a required certificate, but the friend told the N.T.S.B. he had many, many conversations with Christie about getting his IFR rating.
This is just the preliminary report so this investigation is ongoing and subject to change, but what we know now is that weather conditions were definitely far from ideal in the moments before the plane went down.
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