ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – Investigators confirm a doorbell camera may help them figure out what caused a deadly plane crash in St. Charles County over the weekend. During a news conference Tuesday, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also revealed new information about the flight’s final moments.
“The airplane after it took off climbed to 8,000 (feet) on a westerly heading, then it began a turn to the left, back toward the east with a descent,” said Michael Folkerts, NTSB. “The airplane impacted into a forested area. It was rural at a high airspeed on a westerly heading.”
The plane had no black box data or cockpit voice recorders but Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data provide valuable information about the flight, he said.
NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigators will reconstruct what little is left of the engines, propellers, and avionics, of the 1981 Beechcraft baron twin-engine plane.
FlightAware shared its flight tracking map with FOX 2. It shows the plane taking off as two small bands of precipitation approached Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield at 7:10 p.m. Saturday. The plane then turns back with the flight ending at 7:19 p.m., the official time of the crash.
The pilots’ communications with air traffic control were limited.
“There was not a distress call,” Folkerts said. “There are some communications that we’re assessing that give the impression that potentially there was an issue.”
There’s another thing investigators are considering: that audio from a doorbell camera from a neighborhood of new homes about a third of a mile from the crash site outside of New Melle. You can hear the plane going down.
“We’ll have a sound spectrum analysis completed on the doorbell video,” Folkerts said. “We’re looking to try to prevent the next tragedy.”
Witnesses who may have heard or seen anything are encouraged to contact the NTSB via email at witness@NTSB.gov.
Investigators identified the pilots as 55-year-old George King of Westerville, OH, near Columbus; and 35-year-old Amanda Youngblood of Huber Heights, OH, near Dayton. Both were killed. They were flying for Airnet II, a Columbus company. Its website says the company specializes in transporting potentially dangerous cargo. This plane was empty. The experienced pilots were certified for “instrument flying” in inclement weather, Folkerts said. They were headed to Denver for a pickup and return to St. Louis. The plane made the same flight six days earlier.
Ice was not a factor, Folkerts said, but the weather still could have been. It certainly has hampered the search for the wreckage.
“The weather was bad. It is very hilly terrain. It was off the roadway. It was really challenging. There was no fire,” said St. Charles County Police Chief Kurt Frizz.
It took searchers nearly two hours to find the wreckage in the rugged terrain. The closest highway was Highway F.
The NTSB expects to issue a preliminary report within two weeks.