The pilot of a small plane over central Georgia reported a slight loss of oil pressure, then said his engine had stopped, according to new report by federal investigators.
The pilot of the single-engine plane initially asked air traffic control for permission to land at Middle Georgia Regional Airport in Macon. Then, the pilot said his engine stopped and that he wasn't going to make it to a runway there, according to the preliminary report from National Transportation Safety Board.
The pilot then requested a landing at nearby Robins Air Force Base. The controller at Macon's airport coordinated with the air force base and advised the aircraft to contact the tower at the base. However, the pilot never established communication with the base's tower before crashing just under a mile northeast of Robins on May 27, the report states.
Julius Gilreath, 71, of Greenville, S.C.; and Anthony Cabeza, 58, of Greer, S.C., were killed in the crash of the Piper PA-32. Their flight had departed from Apalachicola Municipal Airport, and was headed for Greenville Downtown Airport in Greenville, S.C., when it crashed in a swampy area about 500 yards off Georgia Highway 247.
"Smoke was seen from WRB tower and verified by an airborne aircraft," the report states, referring to the Robins Air Force base tower. "First responders discovered the wreckage in a heavily wooded area approximately 20 minutes after the last radar and radio communications."
The report is preliminary in nature, and it typically takes investigators several months and sometimes years to make a final determination on the cause of air crashes.