Report: Pilot reported control issues before plane crash that killed 2 in Hope Mills

Cumberland County News

HOPE MILLS, N.C. (WNCN) – A preliminary report released Wednesday by the NTSB said the pilot reported control issues before a plane crash that killed two people in Hope Mills on June 27.

“The pilot reported control issues with the airplane and no further communications were received from the accident flight,” the National Transportation Safety Board report said.

The pilot, identified as Bill Merritt, died when he crashed into the back a house about two miles southwest of the Fayetteville Regional Airport. A person in the home also died and another was seriously injured, officials said.

Many of the 911 calls referenced what callers believed to be engine troubles.

It took crews more than 12 hours to remove the bodies from the house.

The report documented a series of uneventful flights leading up to the crash. It said Merritt’s brother had flown with him to Claxton, Georgia. It also said a friend had flown with him to Winston-Salem. Both of those flights took place within a week of the fatal accident, the release said.

The only irregularity, according to the report, that Merritt’s friend observed on the startup heading to Winston-Salem that the altitude and heading reference system fail amber caution light was on during engine startup and stayed on for 12 to 15 minutes.

“The pilot remarked during engine runup that the light usually extinguished by then,” the report said.

The friend did add that he didn’t observe any anomalies with the electronic flight information system display during the time that light was on, the report said.

Parts of the right wing, left horizontal stabilizer, and right engine were found inside the home. The main wreckage was in the front yard, the report said.

The fuel gauge was the only readable instrument recovered.

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