GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) — The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report into the deadly plane crash in Greenwood last week.
Emergency personnel responded to the crash on Patterson Street around 2:20 p.m. on July 11. The small plane had just taken off from the Greenwood Municipal Airport and was heading to the East Texas Regional Airport in Longview, Texas.
The report says several people saw the plane before and during takeoff. Some said the engine sounded normal.
Two witnesses reported they saw the plane trailing blue smoke during the takeoff ground run. One of those witnesses was inside and didn’t hear anything, but the second witness said the engine was making “a loud popping sound as if it was misfiring.”
Others who witnessed the plane say while the it was airborne the nose lowered slightly, leading them to believe the pilot was going to land the plane back on the runway. The plane’s nose continued to go up and down as it climbed.
People at the north end of the airport said they didn’t hear the plane as it turned to the south. They weren’t sure if that was because of the engine power or because of how far they were from the plane.
The plane’s pilot — 46-year-old William Michael Gilliland, of Greenwood — was killed in the crash. His co-pilot and certified flight instructor — Michael Joseph Elliot of Tarpon Springs, Florida — was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
Officials said Gilliland had purchased the used plane a couple of years ago and was a 14-year seasoned pilot. Gilliland was trying to get his instrument certification, which is why Elliot was with him.
Gilliland and Elliot were going to Texas to get the planes annual inspection.
Gilliland was survived by his wife, Angela, and their two daughters, ages 12 and 14. He was the Vice President for Simon Property Group.