OXFORD, Miss. — As air safety investigators look into what caused the deadly plane crash in Oxford over the weekend, WREG has uncovered the tracking data from that flight.
There's a large amount of variables that go into every flight, but the National Transportation Safety Board starts every investigation with two key pieces.
“We’re going to ask the Civil Air Patrol for the pilot’s flight history and flight training," said NTSB Air Safety Investigator Ed Malinowski. "The airplane, we’ll ask for the maintenance history on the aircraft.”
WREG dug through the data behind 18-year-old Lake Little's crash and consulted a local pilot to provide context. Numbers tell only a partial story, but through the first hour, nothing about the flight seemed alarming.
“There wasn’t anything unusual, although the record stops at 1,000 feet, so beyond that and prior to that point, everything looked like it was normal," Ken Hammerton, owner of Air Venture, said.
Toward the end of the flight log, around 4:02, the plane rapidly loses altitude and velocity, but then it seems to stabilize. That stands out on the track log, but it doesn't necessarily mean something was wrong.
“There was a recovery from that, so it looked like things had re-stabilized," Hammerton said. "So if she purposely increased her rate of descent for some reason, it was within normal limits.”
Each student pilot is an individual case, but multiple sources say 15-20 hours is required before a trainee flies alone, and no amount of preparation can totally protect against the unexpected.
“Any organization that is training pilots to fly, you cannot hold their hands all the way through, as much as you would like to do that," Hammerton said. "There’s a point where you've go to let them go.”