NTSB: Pilots had ‘in-flight loss of control’ before plane crash in McClellanville area last week

Tree's were sheared off at the plane crash site, near McClellanville, where two people died Thursday. (Brad Nettles/postandcourier.com) 6/21/13

Brad Nettles

A twin-engine plane crashed in the McClellanville area last week after “an in-flight loss of control,” according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Federal investigators still are trying to determine what caused that to happen.

They found no sign of thunderstorms or adverse weather in the area when the plane went down shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday, killing 44-year-old telecommunications executive Patrick Eudy of Mount Pleasant and flight instructor Robert Ulrich, 69, of Idaho, the report stated.

The plane, a Rockwell International 690B, was destroyed in the crash, which left a wreckage path about 290 feet long and 40 feet wide, the NTSB said.

The airplane was registered to a North Carolina-based corporation and was operated by the pilot as an instructional flight, the NTSB said. A close friend of Eudy, who was founder and chief executive officer of American Broadband, has said he was getting recertified on the plane, with Ulrich as his instructor.

The plane left Charleston Executive Airport on Johns Island at 4:33 p.m. After takeoff, the pilots requested maneuvering airspace for airwork over the McClellanville area, at an altitude 13,000 to 15,000 feet, the report stated.

At 4:46 p.m. the air traffic controller asked the pilot to provide his heading. There was no response. Radar contact was lost, spurring search and rescue operations, the NTSB said.

Witnesses reported that the plane had spiraled down into the trees.

Based on a witness report, local emergency crews found the wreckage within the boundary of the Francis Marion National Forest.

Examination of the accident site showed that the airplane hit trees before the crash, the NTSB said. The plane broke into five sections; there was no fire.

The NTSB investigation of the crash continues and a more complete report is expected at a later date.

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.