A preliminary crash incident report from a fatal plane crash at the Starke County Airport in Knox on July 29 has been released by the National Transportation Safety Board.
A plane flown by James A. W. Evans III of Stafford, Va. was the fourth in a series of five planes that were flying from Fredericksburg, Va. to the Experimental Aircraft Association Airventure fly-in in Wisconsin. A stop at the Starke County Airport was planned for refuel, but was not part of an official flight plan or log. The pilots were going to stay the night near Knox and continue their journey the following day.
The first three pilots landed safely and had seen Evans’ plane fly over the airport on a left crosswind portion of the landing pattern, but did not view the remainder of his descent. The fifth pilot and passenger told the NTSB that they saw Evans’ airplane enter the traffic pattern at the Starke County Airport and heard a rather strange transmission by Evans. The fifth pilot stated that the transmission from Evans seemed “out of the ordinary” and that he was fumbling for words. It was noted in the report that Evans was usually very precise in his radio transmissions.
None of the pilots had actually witnessed the accident.
Data retrieved indicated that Evans’ plane made a left turn to the south end of the runway and began descending. When the airplane was about .36 nautical miles southwest of the approach end of the runway, it began a descending left turn back toward the runway. The report indicated that the left turn continued until the end of the recorded data.
The NTSB noted at the wreckage site that the plane was found upright and the path through the corn and the crushing of the forward fuselage and wind indicated that the airplane impacted the ground in a near wings level attitude with the nose pitched downward about 60 degrees. The wings remained attached, but the engine and firewall were partially separated from the remainder of the fuselage.
A preliminary autopsy report released by Starke County Coroner Kris Rannells stated that James A. W. Evans III suffered massive blunt-force trauma and internal injuries. A final autopsy report will be released when more tests are conducted.
A final report from the NTSB has yet to be filed.