HONESDALE – An eye witness to a fatal plane crash that killed a Sullivan County NY man on May 5 said the Cessna 177B single-engineer plane approached the runway at Cherry Ridge Airport near Honesdale, “unusually fast” before it crashed. The National Transportation Safety Board has issued its preliminary report on the 12:30 p.m. crash that claimed the life of the pilot and owner, Jeffrey Gilbert, 67, of Rock Hill NY.
The government report was based on accounts from witnesses including a student pilot and flight instructor, as well as weather conditions and examination of the wreckage.
The witnesses said the plane completed two traffic pattern approaches. When it came in for the third time, it “floated a long way” until it “forcefully” touched down nose-wheel-first, then “porpoised several times.”
The report said the plane’s engine power was applied and the craft’s nose pitched up over 20 degrees, then stalled at what another witness said was between 200 and 300 feet above the runway. It began a spin to the left, completed about 180degrees of rotation and crashed into the ground.
Based on examination of the scene and the propeller blades, NTSB officials said there was an indication there was “the presence of engine power at the time of the impact.”
The federal agency will issue a final report after further examination and study.