NTSB begins investigation into Lillian plane crash

LILLIAN, Ala. (WALA) – The National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, are the ones leading the investigation into a biplane that crashed in Lillian Sunday. Investigators tell Fox10 News the biggest challenge right now is just getting to the plane to examine it.

“That’s unusual for us. I mean, this is rare as far as our investigation got to have to, to not be able to look at it right away,” Bob Gretz, a senior air safety investigator with the NTSB, said.

Gretz said the plane will likely have to be lifted by helicopter out of the swamp where it’s lodged before it can be fully examined.

He along with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are working to figure out just what went wrong when 67-year-old Dean Legidakes took to the sky yesterday.

“What we’ll be looking at is the man, meaning the pilot the overall and recent experience, the machine, looking for any discrepancies with the airplane and its recent maintenance and overall maintenance, and the environment, we’ll look at the radar data from the FAA and also look at any weather in the area,” Gretz said.

Gretz said Legidakes had taken another family member for a 15 minute flight without any apparent issues prior to his flight with Marli McManus, his 15-year-old niece. Gretz adds Legidakes was no strange to the skies.

“My understanding is he was a pilot for a long time, a local resident, pretty experienced with the airplane and the area,” Gretz said.

But he said Legidakes never made a call for help before the crash.

“My understanding is that there were no distress calls and he was operating in an airspace where you’re not required to call air traffic control. However, they would still see him on radar. So it’s really the radar data that I’m going to be looking for,” Gretz said.

NTSB officials said they should have a preliminary report on their website in about a week.

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