DANBURY, Conn. — The rented Cessna SkyHawk that crashed last week, killing the pilot, was losing altitude while still over the runway for takeoff at Danbury Municipal Airport, said a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.
According to the airport tower controller, the airplane lost altitude after takeoff at 10:25 am. Sunday, July 30, while still over Runway 26, a 4,422-foot-long runway, the NTSB said. He then observed it "appearing to correct – it had assumed a more nose up attitude."
But the plane then began a left roll, followed by a "full nose up attitude, rolling to the left" before it lost altitude and hit the ground on a brushy hillside above the Dog Park, the NTSB said.
The pilot, Mark Stern of Redding, died four days after the crash. Two passengers, who have not been identified, suffered serious injuries.
No flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was operated by Arrow Aviation.
The Cessna, which was substantially damaged, came to rest upright in a nose down attitude, in an area of heavy brush about 1,000 feet from the runway, according to a Federal Aviation Administrator inspector.
The left wing was partially separated from the fuselage and damaged. A third of the right wing was bent upward. The fuselage was buckled on both sides behind the rear window, and the left rear pillar was crushed and separated from the roof, the NTSB said.
The nose section, including the engine, was crushed and displaced.
Several branches were found severed at a 45-degree angle in the path leading up to the crash scene. Both propeller blades had gouges and scratches.
The plane had two full tanks of fuel, the NTSB said.
According to FAA records, Stern had a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and helicopter. He reported 582 hours of total flight experience.
The weather at the time of the crash was clear and sunny at 73 degrees with winds at 9 knots. The visibility was 10 miles.
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