Aviation investigators report plane hit terrain near power lines, killing four

First responders at the scene of a plane crash in Agua Dulce on Sunday Feb. 11, where 4 people were reported dead. Austin Dave/ The Signal

Federal investigators looking into last month’s plane crash in Agua Dulce that claimed the lives of four people said the plane crashed in terrain next to a series of power transmission lines, according to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board Monday.

Investigators concluded their preliminary report noting: “Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted terrain adjacent to a series of power transmission lines about 2.5 miles southeast of Agua Dulce.”

On Feb. 11, just before 11 a.m., an experimental amateur built Cirrus VK-30, airplane hit the ground while maneuvering in the vicinity of Agua Dulce.

The crash killed the pilot Thomas “Tom” Gordon Hastings, 65, of Winnetka, and three members of his family including: his 27-year-old daughter Amber Hill; her husband, Jacob Hill, age 25; and the pilot’s 9-year-old granddaughter, Madison Hastings-Saxelby.

The airplane sustained damage to the fuselage and all the flight control surfaces, according to NTSB investigators.

They reported that “visual meteorological conditions existed near the accident site, at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed for the flight.”

The cross-country flight, they noted, originated from Henderson Executive Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, about 1000, with an intended destination of Van Nuys Airport.

The report states: “A witness, located in the vicinity of the accident site and accustom to hearing/seeing air traffic reported that he observed the airplane flying straight and level, about 2,000 ft to 3,000 ft above the ground.

“He stated that as the airplane got closer to the mountains it looked like the wind had pushed the right wing up.

“The airplane pitched downward into a near vertical attitude.

“The witness added that, when the right wing lifted, it sounded like the pilot “maxed the engine out”.

He further stated there was a distinct difference in engine sound from the first time he saw the airplane when it went vertical, according to the NTSB, noting also that he did not see any smoke, or anything fall from the airplane as it descended towards the ground.

The plane’s wreckage was taken to a “secure facility” for further examination, the investigators reported.

The NTSB investigation is ongoing.

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