Federal authorities are investigating a plane crash in Charleston, South Carolina, that killed a Tampa businessman on March 21, minutes after the pilot reported experiencing engine trouble.
Andy Meyer, 65, of Tampa, was flying home from Philadelphia, where he had gone to meet his new granddaughter. He made a refueling stop at Rocky Mount-Wilson Regional Airport in North Carolina before taking off at 5:31 p.m.
He was about five miles northeast of Charleston Executive Airport when he radioed air traffic control to report engine trouble in the twin-engine Cessna 310.
“I’m losing my engine, I need to land quickly, can you get me to the closest airport?” Mr. Meyer said urgently when he radioed air traffic controllers, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
A controller directed Mr. Meyer to Charleston Executive Airport and asked whether the plane was experiencing trouble with the left or right engine. He calmly replied that both engines appeared to be malfunctioning. The plane was about five miles north of the airport when Mr. Meyer radioed for help.
Air traffic control guided Mr. Meyer to Charleston Executive Airport over the next several minutes, directing him to turn and approach the airport from the south. When asked if he could maintain an altitude of 2,000 feet, Mr. Meyer replied, “I don’t know what I can maintain, just please give me…please give me where I’m going,” the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The controller tried to give Mr. Meyer further directions but received no response. The airplane then disappeared from the radar.
The plane reportedly struck a tree and crashed about 2,000 feet short of the runway, killing Mr. Meyer. There were no others aboard the plane.
Mr. Meyer’s son Jacob, a resident of Chicago, had flown to Tampa to visit his father. He was preparing dinner with his father’s girlfriend. When his father failed to show up by 8:20, Jacob checked the flight-tracking website flightaware.com for his father’s plane status. That’s when he noticed the speed and altitude of the plane dropped steeply in Charleston.
He related the plane’s tail number to someone at the airport and was put on hold. After a little digging on Charleston media sites, he found reports of a plane crash in a wooded area near Charleston Executive Airport, “confirming what we already knew,” he told the Tampa Bay Times.
The 1964 Cessna 310 that Mr. Meyer was flying belonged to a friend who told the Tampa Bay Times that engines and props on the six-seat plane had less than 200 hours on them. He said that he also recently replaced the instrument panel with new, state-of-the-art technology. Mr. Meyer, who owned Continental Wholesale Diamonds in Tampa, planned to become part-owner of the plane.
The plane owner said that Mr. Mayer had 15-20 hours of flight time in the plane, including 10 hours with an instructor as required by his insurance company.
Jacob Meyer told the Tampa Bay Times that his father was a highly experienced pilot with thousands of hours of flight time. In 1999, his father and a friend flew a twin-engine Baron from Philadelphia across the Atlantic with stops in Scotland, England, and Rome.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the plane crash. NTSB officials generally release a preliminary report within a month after opening a plane crash investigation. A final report usually takes at least one year to complete.
Beasley Allen lawyer Mike Andrews focuses much of his practice on aviation litigation and currently represents families of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 victims involving the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. In addition to his Ethiopian Airlines crash clients, Mike has represented people seriously injured in various aviation crashes and the families of those killed in both civilian and military airplane crashes and helicopter crashes.