NTSB releases preliminary report on deadly South Dakota plane crash

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CHAMBERLAIN, S.D, - Investigators have released a preliminary report on a plane crash that killed nine people near Chamberlain over the Thanksgiving weekend.

According to the preliminary report, witnesses reported that the pilot and a passenger worked for three hours to remove the snow and ice from the airplane before the accident flight. The witnesses reported that visibility was limited by snow at the time of the accident.

Weather at the time was recorded as being overcast with clouds, 1/2-mile visibility in moderate snow, with wind from the direction of 20 degrees at 6 knots. Freezing rain and snow were observed in the vicinity of the airport the previous afternoon and overnight before the accident flight, which was operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan.

National Transportation Safety officials said according to preliminary data recovered from the data recorder installed on the airplane, the accident takeoff began from runway 31 in Chamberlain at about 12:31 p.m. Nov. 30. The airplane immediately rolled about 10 degrees to the left after takeoff.

Officials said the roll decreased to about five degrees left as the airplane climbed through about 170 feet above ground level and then reversed to about five degrees right. The airplane ultimately entered a 64-degree left bank as the airplane reached its peak altitude of 460 feet above the ground. The cockpit stall warning and stick shaker became active about one second after liftoff and the stick pusher became active about 15 seconds after liftoff. They continued intermittently for the duration of the flight. The data recording ended about 12:33 p.m.

No radio communications were received from the pilot, and radar contact was never established.

The recorder also captured cockpit sound. The NTSB will convene a group of technical experts to produce a transcript.

The preliminary report details facts uncovered during the on-scene investigation and does not include analysis or a probable cause for the accident. Probable cause will be determined at the end of the investigation, which could take between 12-24 months to complete.

The crash claimed nine lives of an Idaho family and injured three others who were returning home following a hunting trip.