Aviation officials say a recent plane crash in Calhoun that claimed the life of a 76-year-old man, began with a “normal” takeoff.
Moments later the plane, piloted by Roy Russom of Calhoun, crashed into trees near the Tom B. David Airport and burst into flames. Russom died as the result of blunt force trauma sustained during the crash, according to Gordon County Deputy Coroner Bo Nicholson.
This week the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report on the crash.
The report read, in part: “According to a responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, witnesses reported that the airplane took off from runway 17 with engine sounds, ground roll and departure all ‘normal.’
“Then, about 300 feet above ground level, the airplane began a slow roll to the right, reaching about 90 degrees angle of bank and 60 degrees nose-down when it descended into trees heading about 300 degrees magnetic.”
The report went on to say that the plane first crashed into a tree about 50 feet off the ground, “in the vicinity of 34 degrees, 27.03 minutes north latitude, 084 degrees, 55.83 minutes west longitude. The wreckage path angle of decent was about 60 degrees, heading approximately 290 degrees.”
According to the report, “throttle and mixture were at full power positions and the carburetor heat control was found in the full cold position. Flight control continuity was confirmed, but with numerous flight control surfaces separated from the cockpit controls, consistent with impact overload.”
Russom was piloting an “experimental amateur-built Hummel H5, N156FH,” which had acquired a total of 3.8 hours of total flight time “as part of its initial Phase I operating limitations for an amateur-built aircraft,” according to the report.
The NTSB said the report is still in preliminary stages and is subject to change as new information surfaces.
Police and federal officials say a single-engine plane crashed and burst into flames shortly after takeoff in Calhoun on Tuesday.
Calhoun local Roy Gardner Russom, 76, died from blunt force trauma after his homemade plane crash-landed after take off from the Tom B. David runway Tuesday afternoon just after 2 p.m.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the plane burst into flames and was destroyed.
According to Andrew Bennett, an employee at the airport, the wreckage was approximately 200 yards to the west of the airport. The pilot was departing to the south, toward Adairsville.
The plane went in the air “no more than 400-500 feet at the most,” said Bennett. “The wreckage was pretty destroyed. There wasn’t much there, and it burst into flames on impact.”
According to police reports, two eye witnesses at the crash say the plane sounded and looked normal until it started to bank to the right of the runway, and did not level back out.
The pilot had been constructing the plane for some time and was well known to the staff at the airport.
“He came by here through the week mostly and he’d fly in the mornings then come in and hang out and talk with everybody. It’s a small airplane, single seat and it was powered by a Volkswagen engine and it was an airplane that he built himself,” Bennett said. “I think he first flew the airplane about four months ago. I think he’d been building it for two or three years.”
Debris from the crash was relocated to Russom’s hanger, where FAA agents reconstructed the plane Wednesday to help determine the cause of the crash.