NTSB: Pilot killed in Georgetown plane crash was attempting 360 - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

NTSB: Pilot killed in Georgetown plane crash was attempting 360 roll

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John Prince Harris (Credit: The Charleston Gazette) John Prince Harris (Credit: The Charleston Gazette)
Crews on scene of plane crash. Crews on scene of plane crash.
The flight path of the plane shows it was traveling from Charleston, WV to Georgetown, SC. The flight path of the plane shows it was traveling from Charleston, WV to Georgetown, SC.
The aircraft that crashed is a 1963 Folland Gnat T.1 with tail number N18GT (formerly XS-105).  (courtesy - Airport-Data.com) The aircraft that crashed is a 1963 Folland Gnat T.1 with tail number N18GT (formerly XS-105). (courtesy - Airport-Data.com)
GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC -

Tuesday the NTSB released a preliminary report from the plane crash on July 29 in Georgetown, SC.  Read the full report below.

NTSB preliminary report from Georgetown plane crash

A two seat, decommissioned military jet crashed into the woods less than a mile from the Georgetown County Airport Monday afternoon.

Read more stories about the plane crash here.

Authorities identified the victim of a plane crash near the airport in Georgetown as 79-year-old John Prince Harris.  He was the only passenger aboard. The Georgetown County Coroner completed the autopsy Tuesday afternoon.

Peter Knudson, NTSB Spokesperson, says Harris was doing a high speed fly by when the plane crash. Knudson says the pilot was 100-200 feet off the ground when the plane went down.

The pilot's destination was the Georgetown Airport, according to Knudson, but he was not preparing to land when the aircraft crashed. The pilot appeared to be doing an aileron roll, an aerobic maneuver in which the aircraft does a full 360° revolution.  

The preliminary cause of death is trauma as a result of the crash that happened at 1:19 Monday afternoon.

Ray Moore was sitting on his computer when his house suddenly became the scene of the plane crash.

"I heard something like it was at a high speed,a and then shortly after that it just "boom" like an explosion," Moore said.  "At that time when I went to look out the door, there was a big ball of smoke and there were flames in the air."

According to the flight records, the Folland Aircraft Gnat T1 plane, left the Charleston, West Virginia airport around 12:26 Monday afternoon. The flight plane shows the plane was planning on landing at the Georgetown County Airport.

Harris was flying into Georgetown to join his family who was visiting the area. He had been the president of the West Virginia Steel Corporation until it was sold in 1998. An employee at the corporation said that everyone is still shocked and did not release any further comments.

"He has a home in the area, so coming into Georgetown was not new or unusual," Coroner Kenneth Johnson said.

The crash site is close to 100 yards into a densely wooded area. Officials were seen using off road vehicles to get to the site.

"Initially it was very difficult because it's a very wooded thick area," Johnson said.  "The county roads folks were able to cut a trail through for us."

Officials also had to battle thunderstorms that covered the area just off of Highway 17 for most of the afternoon. Johnson said the plane appears to have crashed straight into the ground and created a debris site about 50 yards in diameter.

"It looks to me that the damage to the plane was caused by the crash itself," he said. "Pieces of metal were torn. Nothing appeared to have any definite edges. They were all torn which would be consistent with hitting the ground."

Moore said he and his family are lucky the plane did not hit his home.

"Thank God it [isn't any] closer than it is because it could have been closer," Moore said "When the plane did crash you could feel the vibration from the crash and the explosion. Everything in the house just vibrated."

Officials from the Federal Aviation Authority and the National Transportation Safety Board will be on scene to remove the wreckage, which authorities say will take several days.

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