Preliminary accident report released in fatal plane crash in Taylor County


GRAFTON, W.Va. – The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report for a fatal plane crash last month in Grafton.

That crash, which happened Jan. 27, killed the pilot, Thomas Kaye, 67, of Haydenville, Massachusetts.

The preliminary report states that there was no flight plan filed for the flight, which originated from the North Central West Virginia Airport.

An employee of the business that sold the plane to Kaye stated that Kaye completed multiple training flights with a flight instructor over the weekend and then departed from the Shawnee Field Airport in Bloomfield, Indiana for the cross-country flight to his home in Massachusetts. The plane was newly manufactured, according to the preliminary report.

After Kaye left on the morning of the accident, he stopped to refuel in Bridgeport at about 12:20 p.m. While at the North Central West Virginia Airport, he remarked that “your weather is bad” to an employee before taking off once again, the report states.

According to Leidos Flight Service, there was no record that Kaye received a weather briefing or filed flight plans on the day of the accident.

A review of preliminary Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control communications showed that Kaye was given clearance to depart under visual flight rules, the report states.

A review of Kaye’s logbook revealed he had logged a total flight time of 967 hours, in which 5.3 hours were instructional hours in the accident airplane recorded on January 26, 2020. Several pages of his logbook were damaged by the post-crash fire and were not legible, according to the report.

The report offered a detail account on the state of the plane when it was located.

The initial impact point coincided with a tree, about 110 feet from where the main wreckage was located. All major components of the airplane were found near the main wreckage. Flight control continuity could not be established due to the highly-fragmented wreckage and post-crash fire that consumed most of the fuselage; however, fragments of each flight control surface, forward and rear wing spars, and wingtips were located with the main wreckage, the report states.

The cockpit, instrument panel, seats and fuselage were largely consumed by the post-crash fire. A fragmented and fire damaged airspeed indicator was found indicating about 40 mph (35 knots). Several instrument casings were located, but each sustained significant fire damage. The main fuel shutoff valve was located in the debris and found selected to an on/open position. There was no evidence that the aircraft rescue parachute system had activated; however, the system was not identified in the post-crash fire debris, according to the report.

The engine was located with the main wreckage, partially submerged in the terrain. It sustained heavy impact damage; the No. 2 cylinder was found partially submerged in terrain about 5 feet from the remainder of the engine. The propeller hub had fragmented into several pieces, and all three propeller blades were located near the main wreckage. Each had fragmented into several pieces and separated from its hub. The carburetor sustained impact damage but remained partially connected to the engine. The butterfly valve was observed closed and could not be moved due to impact damage, the report said.

According to a first responder who observed the weather conditions at the accident site shortly after the accident, there was an overcast cloud layer, the temperature was about freezing and there was an occasional flurry, but the visibility was “not an issue,” according to the report.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

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