The preliminary Federal report into a crash that killed two Upstate men points to low fuel as the cause.
To be clear, this report from the National Transportation Safety Board is not final. That won’t come out for 18 months.
Two weeks after the Cessna from Oconee County went down in a Florida lake longtime friends of the victims, like Joel Ward are still stunned.
“Just couldn’t believe that someone you’re around every day of the week could be in a plane accident,” Ward said.
A newly released NTSB preliminary report says the planes two tanks had only “two gallons of fuel” and that each “fuel tank was intact and not breached.”
Commercial Pilot and Flight Instructor Robert Katz explained what that indicates.
“When we see from the report that only two gallons were recovered from each of the tanks, that is actually less than the usable fuel documented from the pilot handbook. The airplane simply ran out of fuel do to the decision making of the pilot and therefore this senseless tragedy was entirely preventable,” Katz said.
Ward said the pilot, Dr. Stanley Rampey, and his passenger, Raymond Dodd, went to Orlando to pick up plane parts.
The Cessna had landed at ORL after a more than three hour flight from the Oconoee County Regional Airport, but the NTSB report said it did not fill up.
Instead it took off for a nearby smaller airport where according to AirNav.co, prices are about $2.80 less pure gallon.
The preliminary report also appears to rule out engine failure since, after the engine was dried out, it started without hesitation and ran at different power settings.
Also concerning to Captain Katz is the air traffic control audio where the tower has to tell Pilot Ramsey to immediately get into proper airspace several times to avoid the larger planes.
“When a pilot hears a controller tell him to do something that is either prefaced or suffixed with immediately, it is not to be questioned it is to be executed post haste, and it is a result of pilot error such as not respecting partitioned air space,” Katz said.
Ward says the new findings make the loss all that more difficult to process.
“We can’t believe it even happened to two friends to two customers but to know it could be from just fuel is really hard to accept,” Ward said.
The pilot was a part of the Golden Corner Flying Club at the Oconee County Regional Airport. The members of that club declined to comment.
The NTSB report said the pilot had reported one thousand hours of flying time.
The final report will not be released until about 18 months from now.