EVANSVILLE — The National Transportation and Safety Board released preliminary findings of its investigation into an Oct. 30 plane crash at an Evansville golf course, which so far has determined the plane likely suffered from engine trouble.
According to the federal agency, the green-and-white Piper Cherokee Lance that came to a rest near the tee box on No. 17 at Helfrich Golf Course slid about 280 feet.
Four people, including two children, were on board the small private plane, the NTSB said. The pilot and one passenger sustained "serious injuries," while two others were "not injured."
Initial police reports described all four injuries as non-life-threatening.
According to the NTSB, air traffic control logs and first response dispatch records shed some light on the tense moments preceding the plan's forced landing near Hole No. 17.
The pilot – identified in a crash report as 43-year-old Nathan Butcher, of Georgia – notified Evansville Regional Airport approach control that the Piper Cherokee's engine was "running rough," the report states.
Controllers cleared the plane for landing at EVV's Runway 4, but Butcher soon reported a total loss of engine power.
The aircraft was still eight miles southwest of the runway at this point, the report states.
According to Flight Aware, a plane with a matching registration number took off from Taylorville, Illinois, at 12:48 p.m. and was scheduled to land in Gallatin, Tennessee, shortly before 3 p.m.
According to tracking on Flight Aware, the plane had reached the confluence of the Wabash and Ohio rivers near southern Posey County when it turned off its course and headed toward Evansville.
After Butcher reported a total loss of engine power, an air traffic controller directed the plane to a nearby grass landing strip, the agency said, but there were "no further communications from the pilot."
"Examination of the accident site revealed the airplane attempted a forced landing," the report states. "The airplane came to rest upright and sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, both wings and horizontal stabilizer."
The agency said its investigators did not travel to the scene of the crash, though the wreckage was retained for "further examination."
An NTSB spokesperson said a final report could be published in the next 12 to 24 months.
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This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: NTSB: Pilot said plane was 'running rough' prior to Evansville crash