Midlands area real estate magnate Bob Russell declared a mayday after losing an engine in the plane he was flying last month shortly before the fatal crash, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report released Tuesday.
Russell, 85, was killed in the May 23 crash in a plane the NTSB identified as an “experimental amateur-built BR Legend LLC Turbine Legend, N42BR.” Russell’s dog also died in the crash.
Russell took off from Columbia Metropolitan Airport about 9:14 a.m., heading toward Asheville, N.C., according to a flight plan filed with the FAA.
About four minutes into his flight, at an altitude of about 6,775 feet, Russell declared a mayday, telling air traffic control that he “…lost, ah, my engine.” Asked for his identification by the controller, he gave a partial ID and said he was going to try to make it back to the airport.
About a minute later, Russell told controllers he could see the Columbia airport, noting, “Roger, I have it in sight. I think I can make it.” Seconds later, he lost his fuel pressure, he told the tower.
The small single engine airplane banked to the left, collided with a tree and crashed into a nearby pond. The airplane came to rest upside down in the shallow pond just 1.2 miles from the airport.
Witnesses who saw the plane come down told investigators they heard no engine sound.
A spokesman for the NTSB in Washington said he could not give any more details about the nature of the aircraft Russell was flying beyond the exact wording of the preliminary report.