WASHINGTON, DC. (WTVA) _ The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report into a Valentine's Day plane crash in Monroe County.
The report says the pilot, Greg Huggins, departed from the Umatilla Municipal Airport in Florida around 2:10 a.m. on February 14th.
The report says he had topped off the tanks of the single engine plane and had six hours of fuel for the four hour flight to the Olive Branch Airport.
NTSB investigators say the pilot told them the engine began to run rough when he was cruising at 6,000 feet near Montgomery, Alabama.
They say the pilot increased the fuel burn rate, but also encountered turbulence and a headwind.
The report says Huggins asked air traffic control to allow him to divert to the Tupelo Regional Airport when he realized he would not make it to Olive Branch.
While being rerouted, the pilot was unable to maintain altitude and had to descend several miles short of the runway.
The pilot says he later learned there was icing between 1,500 and 4,000 feet, which probably contributed to his inability to maintain altitude.
Huggins reported a low fuel status, and lost all power five minutes later according to a review of air traffic control data.
The plane crashed 15 miles southeast of the Tupelo Regional Airport in northwest Monroe County around 7 a.m.
Huggins contacted Itawamba County 911 by cell phone and remained on the phone until rescuers were able to locate the crash site.
The wreckage was recovered for further examination.
NTSB Identification: ERA12LA180
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, February 14, 2012 in Amory, MS
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32-260, registration: N3688W
Injuries: 1 Serious.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.
On February 14, 2012, about 0700 central standard time, a Piper PA-32-260, N3688W, operated by a private individual, was substantially damage during a forced landing into a wooded area, following a total loss of engine power near Amory, Mississippi. The certificated commercial pilot was seriously injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the planned flight to Olive Branch Airport (OLV), Olive Branch, Mississippi. The flight departed Umatilla Municipal Airport (X23), Umatilla, Florida, about 0210.
The pilot reported that he "topped off" the fuel tanks with 6 hours of fuel for the 4-hour flight. While cruising at 6,000 feet near Montgomery, Alabama, the engine began to run rough. The pilot enriched the fuel mixture to alleviate the rough running engine, which also resulted in an increase in the fuel burn rate. He added that the situation was compounded by turbulence and a headwind. Prior to reaching Tupelo Regional Airport (TUP), Tupelo, Mississippi, the pilot realized he would not reach OLV and requested a deviation to TUP from air traffic control (ATC). While being vectored to TUP by ATC, the pilot was unable to maintain altitude and had to descend several miles short of the runway. The pilot further stated that after the accident he learned there was icing between 1,500 feet and 4,000 feet, which probably contributed to his inability to maintain altitude.
Review of preliminary ATC data revealed that the pilot declared a low fuel status, and then reported the engine lost all power about 5 minutes later.
The pilot was able to call emergency services via his mobile telephone and described the area surrounding the accident site. Local search and rescue personnel located the accident site about 1200, which was situated approximately 15 miles southeast of TUP. The wreckage was recovered for further examination.