SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The wings of a small plane rocked before and after takeoff and became nearly vertical to the ground before a fiery crash that killed all six people aboard near Phoenix earlier this month, according to a preliminary report published Thursday by the National Transportation Safety Board.
However, the report doesn’t state what caused the April 9 crash or who was flying the plane that was headed to North Las Vegas Airport.
The agency’s final report on the crash isn’t expected until the middle of next year.
The Piper PA-24 Comanche went down on the TPC Scottsdale Champions Golf Course and burst into flames less than a mile (1.6 kilometers) north of the Scottsdale Airport.
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Days after the crash, Scottsdale police identified the victims as Erik Valente, 26; James Louis Pedroza, 28; Mariah Sunshine Coogan, 23; Anand Anil Patel, 28; Helena Lagos, 22; and Iris Carolina Rodriguez Garcia, 23.
Most of the victims were from Las Vegas, but Coogan was from Santa Rosa, California, and was a horse trainer and aspiring model.
Lagos was a part-time Las Vegas fashion model who reportedly was dating Pedroza, who reportedly bought a share of the 1970 six-seat plane in February and was considered a student pilot.
Valente was a certified airport pilot, but the NTSB report didn’t say who was handling the controls of the plane at the time of the fatal nighttime flight.
NTSB investigators who arrived on the scene said they were trying to determine if the plane was overloaded and not equipped to carry six people.
Airport surveillance video showed the plane’s wings rocking during and shortly after takeoff, the NTSB report said.
A traffic camera near the end of the departure runway recorded the plane losing altitude after a left-banking turn.
“The wings became nearly vertical and the view of the airplane was lost behind a berm. Seconds later, the camera caught a fireball when the airplane impacted terrain,” the report said. “The plane’s main cabin was mostly consumed by fire.”