Unlicensed Pilot Crashes Homebuilt Plane, Killing Five

NTSB investigating the fatal crash involving four young passengers.

An unlicensed pilot in rural south Georgia, about 100 miles from Savannah, crashed his homebuilt plane on September 16 at about 3:40 a.m., killing all five people on board.

No probable cause was identified in a preliminary report from the National Transportation and Safety Board last week, and there is no evidence of mechanical defects that may have influenced the crash.

A witness told the NTSB that she saw the plane zig-zagging above the tree-line, flying in the pattern of an 'M.' According to the FAA's radar data, the plane rapidly climbed and then descended 500 feet before crashing. Evidence at the site of the crash suggests the plane struck trees 50 feet above the ground and then crashed into the dirt below. Wreckage was scattered for 200 feet.

The NTSB reports that the pilot, identified as Waylon Boatright, took four friends up in his four-seat RV-10 from a small Bacon County airport, about six miles from where the plane crashed. In addition to Boatright, victims of the crash included Drayden Sears, 24; Logan Tomberlin, 23; Ethan Hampton, 23; and Angel Wade, 20.

Boatright was certified to build and repair the plane in December 2010, but he was not licensed to fly it. According to the report, because Boatright did not hold a pilot certificate and a logbook was not found, the NTSB could not determine how much flight experience he had.

Still investigating, the NTSB has not yet determined why the group went flying so early in the morning, but has recovered three cellphones and two data cards, which may reveal additional information.

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