FRANKLIN, N.C. (AP) – A private jet owned by a Florida businessman that crashed in western North Carolina struck the ground, flipped and burst into flames, killing the five on board, officials said Friday.
The Cessna Citation crashed Thursday while trying to land at Macon County Airport near Franklin. The plane was registered to lighting company owner Bogan Jakubowski of Venice, Fla., but NTSB investigator Bob Gretz said he wouldn’t disclose whether Jakubowski was piloting the jet until local medical examiners confirmed the identify of all five victims. Two men, two women and a pre-teen girl died in the fiery crash, he said.
Several witnesses said the plane scrapped its initial attempt to land after approaching too high for the runway, Gretz said. On the pilot’s second attempt, the plane’s nose wheels touched down first, he said.
The jet’s right wing tip then struck the ground and caused the plane to flip and catch on fire, said airport manager Neil Hoppe.
There were clear skies and very low winds at the airport at the time of the crash, Gretz said.
The pilot filed a flight plan and flew from Florida to Franklin with the help of traffic controllers and onboard navigation equipment before nearing the landing strip, Gretz said. The airport does not have traffic controllers, so pilots broadcast their intentions to land or take off to other aircraft nearby on a common radio frequency, Gretz said.
A preliminary report on the crash is expected next week, Gretz said. Investigators will continue to study the pilot, aircraft and environment to find a probable cause for the next six to 12 months, he said.
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