Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bellanca 8KCAB Super Decathlon, N2504Z: Accident occurred October 11, 2016 in Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee

NTSB Identification: ERA17CA012 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 11, 2016 in Knoxville, TN
Aircraft: BELLANCA 8KCAB, registration: N2504Z

NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

FAA FSDO: FAA Nashville FSDO-19


Date: 11-OCT-16

Time: 17:52:00Z
Regis#: N2504Z
Aircraft Make: CHAMPION
Aircraft Model: 8KCAB
Event Type: Accident
Highest Injury: Unknown
Damage: Substantial
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
State: Tennessee

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Knox County Sheriff’s Office said a pilot and his passenger were able to swim to safety after their single-engine plane crash in the French Broad River.

The pilot, Mark Watkins, and his passenger, Emily Smith, were taken by Rural/Metro to University of Tennessee Medical Center with minor injuries. Deputies said the plane clipped a power line over the river near Fawver Road and crashed into the water near French Road at around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The sheriff’s office said the Bellanca 8KCAB Super Decathlon airplane had just taken off from the Downtown Island Airport, which is about 20 miles from where the plane crashed. It’s not clear where the couple was heading.

The FAA was notified and The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. The sheriff’s office said Watkins has a pilot’s license issued September 2, 2014.

“They are lucky, a small plane like that hitting the water is significant all by itself,” said Mark Walker with the Knox County Rescue Squad.

Brenda Brogden lives across the river. She saw the plane hit the electrical wire from her back patio.

“It was just sparks, sparks going every which way,” said Brogden.

She then heard the plane crash into the water a few seconds later.

“Very terrifying because I was sure nobody could survive that,” said Brogden.

She immediately called 911. She said she could hardly talk on the phone with the operator.

“You know, I can see somebody walking in the water. They’re going up to the edge of the bank. It looks like two people,” said Brogden in the 911 call made Tuesday.

She could not believe she saw the two passengers walking.

“I told him they must not be hurt too bad because they are walking. I can’t believe they actually made it,” said Brogden.

FAA crews pulled the plane out of French Broad River early Wednesday morning. The team was inspecting the plane to see if the plane was okay to fly before take-off.

“Different breaks in the metal. You look for how it was broken and what possible could have caused it,” said Aaron Devogel, aviation inspector.

Devogel said it appeared nothing was wrong with the plane before takeoff.

“With the way the aircraft looks, every indication of wire strike and then impact with the water,” said Devogel.

FAA is looking over the plane and then handing information to NTSB so it can analyze the information and find a cause.

“Could be 6 months. It could be a couple of years,” said Devogel.

Devogel is a also former helicopter pilot. He is impressed that the passengers came out of the crash with little to no injuries.

“We don’t necessarily know at this time why he was flying low but normal flight should not have been this low,” said Devogel.

KUB said 108 people were without power after the crash.

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Local 8 News confirmed through Rural/Metro that a small plane crashed into the French Broad River in Knox County.

According to Rural/Metro, emergency crews responded to the crash site near Fawver Lane, which is close to the Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.

Dispatchers said two people were on board, a pilot and a passenger, and both made it out of the plane safely. According to the Knox County Sheriff's Office, two people suffered minor injuries. The NTSB was placed in charge of the investigation.

KCSO said the plane hit a power line over the river near Fawver Road at around 1:30 p.m. before crashing. The Bellanca 8KCAB Super Decathlon plane had just taken off from Downtown Island Home Airport before hitting the water.

Witnesses said the plane made a lot of noise as it crashed into the water. One witness told Local 8 News that as she was on the phone with 911, she saw people climbing out of the plane and swimming to shore.

"I heard the plane coming and then I saw it come by, hit the power lines, did a lot of noise and I started to run because I was afraid the lines would come down and hit me," said Brenda Brogden.

Local 8 News also talked to a local pilot about the crash. Randy Campbell has more than a thousand flight hours; he said the type of plane that crashed sometimes has acrobatic abilities and it's possible the pilot was flying low.

"Maybe they're doing some low level maneuvers, maybe acrobatic type things, they have flown directly into the power lines, hitting it with their propeller, which would be my guess, basically just going straight down into the water. Usually when a plane goes straight down like that rarely are they not injured badly or killed," Campbell said. "I'll be candid with you, I'm surprised they're alive."

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