NTSB says crashed plane's engine and structure sound
A federal safety investigator said Tuesday that no evidence of engine or structural failure had been found in the wreckage of the plane that crashed at Hampton Airfield, killing two well-known Kingston residents.
The crash shortly before 11 a.m. Monday killed pilot David E. Ingalls, 81, and his passenger, Bruce Anderson, 62. Ingalls, a U.S. Air Force pilot who later piloted commercial aircraft, was highly regarded for his conservation efforts in the town of Kingston. Anderson owned a Kingston tree service business.
Ingalls also was a deacon at First Congregational Church in Kingston. A woman in the church’s office said Tuesday that no memorial service had yet been planned.
“Dave Ingalls was a very beloved and longtime member of this congregation,” the woman said, declining to be identified and saying the Ingalls family had asked for privacy.
Ingalls was the owner of the 1956 Cessna 180 that plunged into a grove of trees shortly after taking off, according to a registration number provided by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and online data from an aviation-tracking site.
NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said the investigation will cover the plane’s maintenance records, recent flight records for Ingalls and the possibility of fatigue or other factors, to determine if “there was anything that would impact his ability to fly the plane.”
Todd Gunther, an air safety investigator with the NTSB’s office of aviation safety, is inspecting the plane and crash site this week with engine and air frame specialists.
“We have no indication of any type of power failure,” Gunther said beneath heavy storm clouds at the airfield Tuesday afternoon. He added that the engine had “no broken components” and appeared to have been properly oiled and operating at the time of the crash.
Gunther confirmed previous reports that the plane rose sharply into a near-vertical position shortly after take-off, then stalled, veered left and did nearly a 180-degree turn before impact.
Gunther said the wing flaps were functioning normally on the fixed-wing, single-engine propeller craft. The propellers appeared to have been rotating at the time of the crash and there was no indication of structural failure, either, he said.
“We have no evidence of an in-flight fire,” Gunther added, saying at least one witness report had raised that possibility.
North Hampton fire crews and others removed the engine from the airfield with a tractor Tuesday morning, Gunther said.
He and his team planned to check the plane’s flight control system Wednesday, along with the restraint system for Ingalls and Anderson, Gunther said.
He said the NTSB could release a preliminary report in seven to 10 days, but it could be a year or more before a factual report and statement of probable cause are released.
North Hampton Fire Chief Dennis Cote has said about 150 people were gathered at the airfield on Route 1 for an annual Labor Day event when the unrelated crash occurred.
North Hampton Police Chief Brian Page said his department’s involvement would end after the last of the wreckage is removed from the crash site, possibly late Wednesday. He said the crash site, a grove of trees adjacent to the airfield, is on property owned by the nearby Seacoast Harley-Davidson store on Route 1.
Page said North Hampton fire crews did a hazmat check after the crash, but no significant property damage or hazard was found.
He said his department would again have officers at the crash site overnight Tuesday into Wednesday.
About 30,000 flights take off or land at the airfield every year, Page said.
Hampton Airfield manager Garrett Miller could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Authorities are asking any witnesses who haven’t yet given statements to do so at www.ntsb.gov.