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Investigators issue preliminary report on fatal French Lick plane crash

FRENCH LICK, Ind. (WISH) — The National Transportation Safety Board has issued its preliminary report on a fatal plane crash at French Lick Municipal Airport.

A family member told the NTSB that on Aug. 27, the pilot flew to Fischer’s Airport in New Memphis, Ill., in a Beech B-35 single-engine aircraft, to attend a family event.

The pilot, identified only as a male, returned to the airport that evening and departed for French Lick just before 8 p.m.

Investigators say the Beech B-35 approached runway 08 in French Lick about an hour later.

Airport surveillance video shows the plane touching down on the runway and then leaving the runway before “becoming airborne and impacting trees just outside the perimeter fence,” the NTSB says.

Investigators determined the plane’s left main wheel touched down more than 1,000 feet past the runway threshold — the markings on the runway that indicate the start and end of the area designated for landing and takeoff in non-emergency conditions.

The nose gear and right main landing gear then touched down and remained on the runway for 165 feet before the small plane went off the runway and onto the grass, according to the NTSB.

Once in the grass, the plane traveled a bit farther before becoming airborne and hitting the trees.

After the impact, the plane caught on fire and flames consumed the cabin, most of the fuselage, and the inboard portion of both wings by the fuel tanks, the NTSB found.

The pilot died in the crash. He was the only person on board. No one on the ground was hurt.