- Associated Press - Friday, October 30, 2015

HAMMOND, La. (AP) - The National Transportation Safety Board reports an apparent loss of engine power shortly after takeoff led to the fatal plane crash at the Hammond airport earlier this month.

Pilot Desmond Milligan, of Lafayette, and passenger John Harris, of Denham Springs, died in the Oct. 14 crash at the Hammond Northshore Regional Airport.

The cause of the engine failure has not been determined.

NTSB preliminary report released Thursday finds the Cessna 421B twin-engine plane was about 100 feet in the air and a little more than halfway down the 6,500-foot runway, making its initial climb, when a witness heard “a loud pop” followed by slowing of the airplane’s right engine and right propeller.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1jWtWeX) a final report on the crash could take a year or more to complete.

“The airplane then yawed to the right,” the report continues. “The witness then saw the airplane begin a right turn toward runway 18,” with its right engine propeller still “windmilling.”

The plane cleared the tree line by about 150 feet, then “rolled and went straight down into the field” north of runway 18, where it exploded and burst into flames, the report states.

Most of the airplane was consumed by the fire, but the primary structure and control surfaces were found within the immediate area of the accident site.

“Both wings had crush damage consistent with a near vertical impact,” the report states.

The landing gear was found in a retracted position, according to the report.

Both engines and propellers, which had separated from the engine, were kept for future examination.

Air traffic control recordings indicate that the 1973 Cessna, tail number N33FA, was cleared for takeoff headed northwest on the longer of the airport’s two runways just before 3:45 p.m. on Oct. 14.

Less than a minute later, the pilot called “mayday” and was given clearance to make a southbound landing on the other runway.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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