- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2007

TRAPPE, Md. (AP) — Lightning and a “problem” preceded a deadly plane crash that killed three men earlier this month as they were flying to North Carolina on a golf trip, investigators said in a preliminary report.

Pilot Gregory Doppke of Greenwich, Conn., asked air traffic controllers for permission to fly around a thunderstorm April 4, according to the report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Seven minutes later at 9:36 a.m., Mr. Doppke made his last radio transmission.

“We just, uh, we got a problem. Looks like we just lost … we lost attitude,” according to the report.

Mr. Doppke, Richard Lomas, 58, of Stamford, Conn., and Andrew Young of Mahopac, N.Y., died when their Piper PA-30 crashed in a soybean field near U.S. 50 in southern Talbot County.

After Mr. Doppke requested permission to fly around the storm, he reported “a lot of lightning” in the area despite light turbulence.

NTSB spokesman Paul Schlamm said attitude refers to the angle of the aircraft in relation to the horizon.

“Whether the nose is above or below the horizon, the wings are level, that sort of thing,” Mr. Schlamm said.

The three left from Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y., and were flying to Moore County Airport in Southern Pines, N.C.

Mr. Doppke held a private pilot certificate, with more than 4,000 hours of flight experience, the report said.

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