The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report of a July 25 plane crash that killed three people in San Antonio.
The report says the Piper PA-28 airplane departed from Stinson Municipal Airport in San Antonio’s south side but had a “shallower than normal climb profile” as it ascended. The airplane “wobbled” as it tried to gain altitude, then plunged to the ground about a mile from the airport.
The impact triggered a fire that consumed the badly damaged plane. Passenger Simon David Willett, 55, was killed in the crash. Pilot Robert Perguson, 28, and passenger Zachary Collins, 37, suffered severe burn injuries and were taken to the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center in Brooke Army Medical Center for treatment. They were listed in critical but stable condition initially but both men died from their injuries on August 11, more than two weeks after the plane crash.
Mr. Willett’s widow Emelie Willett told Sn Antonio’s KSAT that her husband was taking a discovery flight because “he wanted to see if that instructor was the right one to help him earn his pilot’s license.”
People who are interested in getting their pilot’s license are encouraged to take an introductory lesson to see if the school, the instructor, or even piloting an airplane is right for them.
Ms. Willett said that everything and everyone were severely burned in the plane crash and she had to provide her husband’s dental records so his body could be identified.
“Everything was burned,” Ms. Willett told KSAT. “There was nothing there to recognize. The FAA took over the investigation and I did get a call from a couple of investigators. They gave me preliminary details but couldn’t confirm them just yet.”
Ms. Willett told KSAT that investigators told her that the plane crash could have been caused by a couple of factors.
“They said that the engine was having issues keeping altitude and the second could have possibly been an overweight issue. My husband’s best friend is like a 6′4 big guy and my husband wasn’t a tiny man either.”
The airplane was owned and operated by Valkyrie Aviation Flight Academy, a flight-training school that Mr. Perguson founded.
It could take a year or two before the NTSB makes a final determination of the crash cause and issues a final report.
Beasley Allen lawyer Mike Andrews focuses much of his practice on aviation litigation. Mike has represented people seriously injured in a variety of aviation crashes similar to the one described in this story, and the families of those killed in both civilian and military airplane crashes and helicopter crashes. He currently represents families of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 victims involving the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.