- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 17, 2006

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Weather, mechanical failure and lack of fuel have been ruled out as causes of a fatal plane crash last month, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

David K. Weiss, 72, of Bethesda, was killed in the April 25 crash of the Cessna 172 he was piloting. The plane went down in southern Pennsylvania shortly after taking off from Frederick.

Mr. Weiss took off from Gaithersburg about 12:10 p.m. to practice maneuvers, landing in Frederick at 12:40 p.m. and taking off again about 1:17 p.m., flying northwest toward the Pennsylvania border, the report said.

Logbooks for the Congressional Flying Club, which owned the plane, show a previous pilot filled the Cessna with 22.3 gallons of fuel before Mr. Weiss’ flight, and NTSB investigators reported a strong odor of fuel at the crash site, the report said.

Investigators also accounted for all of the plane’s major components. Except for breaks in cables, possibly caused by a steeper descent than they were designed to handle, all flight controls appeared to have been in working order.

Propeller blades bent in an S-shape and circular scratches in the starter housing also could indicate the propellers were spinning when the plane went down, said Maj. Wes LaPre, a spokesman for Civil Air Patrol and a former Air Force pilot.

Weather also does not appear to have played a role, with clear skies and a light wind.

The plane crashed into trees about 950 feet up the side of a 2,000-foot mountain. The wreckage path shows the plane first struck a tree about 80 feet above the ground and continued at a 10-degree downward angle, the report said.

Mr. Weiss was flying on a routine “proficiency flight,” needed to maintain his pilot’s certification.

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