Preliminary investigation of Lyon Co. plane crash released - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Preliminary investigation of Lyon Co. plane crash released

Marty, Kim and Piper Gutzler & Sierra Wilder were all killed in the crash. (Source: Campagna Funeral Home) Marty, Kim and Piper Gutzler & Sierra Wilder were all killed in the crash. (Source: Campagna Funeral Home)

The preliminary investigation of a Lyon County, Kentucky plane crash that killed four people in early January has been released by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB released the report Friday morning.

According to NTSB, about 6 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2015, a Piper PA-34-200T, N81291, was heavily damaged when it hit trees and terrain during a forced landing near Kuttawa, Kentucky.

The pilot, Marty Gutzler, his wife Kim Gutzler and his daughter Piper Gutzler as well as a relative, Sierra Wilder, were all fatally injured. A fourth passenger, Sailor Gutzler, was seriously injured. 

The NTSB says the flight left Tallahassee, Florida around 4 p.m. central time and was expected to land in Mount Vernon, Illinois later that day.

Preliminary information from the Federal Aviation Administration shows that at 5:50 p.m., Marty Gutzler contacted air traffic control and requested vectors to the nearest airport in visual flight rules weather conditions due to "problems" with both engines.

The controller told the pilot that the airport at the Kentucky Dam State Park was 11 miles west of the plane's location. Marty Gutzler reportedly acknowledged the clearance, said he lost sight of the airport and asked for the airport common traffic advisory frequency. After that, there was no more communication from the plane.

At 5:55 p.m., according to the NTSB, after trying several times to make contact with the plane, the controller reported that radar contact had been lost. The plane was last seen about 10 miles west of Kentucky Dam State Park.

FAA records show Marty Gutzler held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multi-engine land and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate for airplane single engine, multi-engine and instrument airplane. His most recent third-class medical certificate was issued on Feb. 4, 2014. On that date, Marty Gutzler reported 2,300 hours of total flight experience. Of those hours, 50 were in the previous six months.

The plane was manufactured in 1979, according to FAA records, and was equipped with two Continental Motors Inc. 210-horsepower engines. The most recent annual inspection was performed on March 16, 2014.

The NTSB report says the plane came to rest inverted with the landing gear retracted and was examined at the crash site on Jan. 4. There was a strong odor of fuel and all major components of the plane were accounted for at the scene. 

The fuselage and other parts of the aircraft were largely intact, according to the NTSB, but had very heavy damage. The right outboard fuel tank was destroyed on impact and showed evidence of a post-crash fire.

An examination of the cockpit showed the seats were anchored to their mounts with seat belts buckled. All were cut by rescue personnel with the exception of the forward-facing right aft seat belt which was intact and unbuckled.

The NTSB reports that the left engine was separated from all engine mounts but stayed attached to the left wing through wires and cables. The left propeller was separated from the left engine and was in the vicinity of the main wreckage. 

The right engine was still attached to the engine mounts and the right wing. All major engine components were still attached to the engine. The right propeller was found in the vicinity. The right propeller spinner showed impact damage and both propeller blades were bent in the aft direction.

According to the NTSB, the plane was recovered from the site and fuel was draining from the ruptured fuel tanks. A detailed examination of the airplane was conducted in Springfield, Tennessee on Jan. 5. The right engine was removed and prepared for shipment and examination at a later date.

Two GPS devices and an iPhone were also retained for a later examination.

Lockheed-Martin Flight Service says it did not provide any services to Marty Gutzler on the day of the crash. The NTSB says the pilot did file his Instrument Flight Rules flight plan around 4:40 p.m. central time with an online commercial vendor before departing, but there was no evidence that a weather briefing was obtained.

A preliminary investigation of weather data by an NTSB Senior meteorologist showed a forecast of IFR conditions along the entire route of flight. Plus, Airman's Meteorological Information advisories for IFR, icing and mountain obscuration conditions were in effect around the time of the crash.

At 7:53 p.m., weather conditions reported at Barkley Regional Airport, about 29 miles west of the crash site, showed wind from 60 degrees at six knots. Visibility was six statute miles in mist and ceiling overcast was at 600 feet above ground level.

NTSB investigators release the preliminary report soon after the accident. Any errors in the report will be fixed when the final report is released in about a year.  At that time they will release any information they have gathered on why the plane crashed.

Click here to read the full report.

Click here to read more about the crash.

According to the family's attorney, an online fund has been set up for Sailor Gutzler, the 7-year-old survivor of the plane crash. You can click here for more information.

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