Federal and local authorities are investigating a plane crash at the Ole Miss golf course in Oxford, Mississippi, that killed a teen pilot Saturday, July 6, sending her community of Starkville into a state of shock and grief.
Eighteen-year-old Lake Little initially survived the plane crash with severe burn injuries but died later in the day at a Memphis, Tennessee, hospital.
According to The Starkville and Columbus Dispatch, flight tracking data from FlightAware shows that Ms. Little took off from Golden Triangle Regional Airport in Columbus at 2:03 p.m. and arrived at University-Oxford Airport at 3:11 p.m.
The Starkville Daily News reported that Ms. Lake was reportedly practicing “touch and go” takeoffs and landings when the plane crashed about 3:15 p.m. The distance between the airport and the crash site was about a half mile.
“We were on (hole) 9… It looked like it was landing and then aborted the landing and we saw it struggle to come back up,” a witness told the Oxford Eagle. “Then, when we were walking off the green it just fell straight down into the trees.”
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) spokesman Eric Weiss said the airplane was a Cessna Skyhawk (C-172). The Starkville and Columbus Dispatch reported that the plane Ms. Little was flying was affiliated with the Mississippi Civil Air Patrol. Ms. Little had joined the U.S. Air Force Civil Air Patrol (CAP) to facilitate her pilot training. The CAP provides instructors, flight training, and aircraft to young people pursuing careers in aviation.
The plane crashed about 3:15 p.m. near the 17th hole teeing ground. Nobody on the ground was injured and there were no others aboard the crashed plane.
The plane crash remains under investigation by the NTSB, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and local authorities. Investigators are collecting evidence from the crash site, collecting witness statements, and looking into potential problems with the aircraft and engine manufacturer.
The NTSB will issue a preliminary report in two weeks. It generally takes the NTSB and FAA a year or longer to close an investigation and issue a final report.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, Ms. Little recently earned her pilots license and planned to have a career in aviation, with the specific goal of working for Fed-Ex. She graduated from Starkville Academy in May and was to attend the University of Southern Mississippi in the fall. She also recently joined the National Guard and was crowned as Starkville’s “Miss Hospitality” pageant winner in February. She planned to compete in the statewide competition for Mississippi’s Goodwill Ambassador for Tourism pageant later this month.
The mayors of Starkville and Oxford, the Governor of Mississippi, and several others who knew Ms. Little offered condolences to her family and friends.
I’ve am struggling to comprehend the loss of Lake Little. Bright, daring, spunky, expressive, positive, friendly, unyielding. I wish I had adequate words. I shall miss her terribly, and so shall our world. A great person from a great family.
— Charlie Winfield (@charliewinfield) July 7, 2019
Mike Andrews, a lawyer in the firm’s Personal Injury and Products Liability section, focuses much of his practice on aviation accident litigation. He has represented people seriously injured in aviation crashes, and the family of those killed in both civilian and military airplane crashes and helicopter crashes.