Moncks Corner pilot survived initial crash, tried to crawl away

Kenneth W. Tollett

MONCKS CORNER — Kenneth Tollett evidently tried to crawl away from the wreckage. His private plane had gone over the airport fence and into the trees alongside runway. He could have survived, maybe. But what needed to happen didn't.

He wouldn't be found for two weeks.

His family on Saturday is burying Tollett, 64, of Moncks Corner, after a funeral service in Dunlap, Tenn. His death in the horrible wreck at Berkeley County Airport on Oct. 13, and the delay searching for him, were the consequences of too many things going wrong. He wasn't found sooner because he didn't tell anyone that he planned to fly and because he had a tendency to go off by himself, so no one immediately became alarmed.

But there's more. Tollett flew in an air space plagued by old emergency equipment giving off so many false signals that the U.S. Air Force no longer monitors the frequency. A lot of private pilots don't even listen to it unless requested. The $5,000-$6,000 cost of upgrading to more closely monitored satellite equipment discourages a lot of pilots.

The airport where Tollett berthed his plane isn't heavily used, particularly on weekdays such as the day he flew. Only one other aircraft, a helicopter used it that day. Tollett hadn't regularly been flying the plane and might have been practicing for his two-year certification renewal.

The circumstances stacked the odds.