Investigations underway after fatal plane crash at airport
It may be a couple of weeks before more is known about this week’s plane crash at the Chautauqua County-Jamestown Airport that claimed the lives of two Canadian men.
The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed an investigator was on site Wednesday as part of ongoing investigations that also include the Federal Aviation Administration. A spokeswoman for the agency said the investigator will document the accident scene and airplane as well as gather witness statements and any surveillance video that may have captured any part of the flight.
A Cirrus SR-22 crashed a little before 2 p.m. Tuesday — drawing numerous fire and police departments and local agencies to the airport located in the town of Ellicott.
Sheriff James Quattrone later identified the pilot as 52-year-old Roger Jay Ryall of Toronto and the plane’s passenger as 52-year-old David Hughes of British Columbia.
The small plane had departed Tuesday morning from its base in Oshawa, Ontario, and flew to Erie, Pa. Just after noon, the plane stopped to refuel at the south county airport and was set to fly to Waterloo, Ontario, when it crashed.
As is routine, the NTSB is expected to release a preliminary report in two to three weeks that will outline facts and circumstances of the accident. Final reports, which include the probable cause and any contributing factors, can take up to two years to complete.
Though a cause has yet to be determined, the NTSB told The Post-Journal on Wednesday that the Cirrus SR-22 “had been observed doing some practice runs” after taking off from the Jamestown airport. About 10 minutes transpired from takeoff to when the plan crashed.
“During the final flight, witnesses observed the aircraft bank left and then right,” the NTSB said. “It then deployed its parachute — a specific feature of this type of aircraft — at a low altitude before impacting a wooded area adjacent to the airport.”
A witness also told The Post-Journal that he saw the plane’s on-board parachute deploy seconds before it hit a wooded area just north of the runways. The crash resulted in a fire that was quickly doused by volunteer firefighters.
Both victims were discovered in the wreckage. The area was cordoned off with yellow caution tape and spectators were cleared from a field near the crash site.
Due to the crash, the airport briefly closed to aviation traffic.
As part of its investigation, the NTSB said it also will collect any flight track or radar data.
Meanwhile, the wreckage is set to be recovered today and moved to an “offsite facility for further analysis,” the agency said.
At a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, Quattrone said it was apparent the Cirrus SR-22 had experienced “some type of catastrophic failure.” Asked if the pilot reported any problems prior to the crash, he responded, “None that we are aware. We have no indication they called any ‘May Day’ or any issues with their plane.”
Tuesday’s incident was the first fatal aviation accident in Chautauqua County since November 2020. Three Warren County residents were on a return trip from North Carolina when the Grumman American GA-7 plane they were in crashed east of the Jamestown airport. Due to wintry conditions and the time, the wreckage was not discovered until the following morning.
Prior to that, the last plane fatality at Chautauqua County-Jamestown Airport occurred Jan. 8, 2007, when a twin-engine plane impacted terrain after takeoff. The pilot was killed in the crash.
In May 2007, three Canadian residents were killed after the Beechraft 55 Baron they were in crashed near the Chautauqua County-Dunkirk Airport. En route to New Castle, Pa., the pilot reported engine problems to air traffic controllers in Buffalo.
As was the case Tuesday, the Beechraft 55 Baron had departed earlier in the day from Oshawa Executive Airport.