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Walker plane crash initial report released

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    State police, the New England Fire Company, and the coroner are on the scene of a plane crash Friday. COPYRIGHT LARRY NEFF/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published November 05. 2019 11:46AM


The National Transportation Safety Board has released official details of a fatal glider crash outside Tamaqua last month. The report says that no significant factors other than a possible weak thermal that the pilot reported to his friends during the flight played a role in the crash.

The event claimed the life of William D. Hanson, 65, of Queens, New York. Hanson was a commercial pilot with over 300 hours of flight experience.

According to the report on the Oct. 18 crash, the Sportine Aviacija Lak-17B motorized glider was one of three gliders taking part in a flight from Blairstown Airport, New Jersey, to Burnt Cabins, Pennsylvania, and back.

Weather that day was clear skies.

Hanson’s fellow glider pilots that day told investigators that they had kept in radio contact with each other during the flight.

The person, who was not identified, also said that at around 3:15 p.m., Hanson radioed that he was climbing in a weak thermal near Tamaqua. That was the last communication sent by Hanson.

At 3:42 p.m., Hanson’s glider crashed in a heavily wooded area of Wildcat Mountain near Lewistown Valley Tabernacle in Walker Township. Hanson was pronounced dead just after 6:30 p.m. by Schuylkill County deputy coroner Albert “Bud” Barnes.

Moylan said the emergency call came in at 4 p.m. A passing motorist saw the plane go down and called 911.

The glider plane was found in pieces after it apparently went down into a patch of bushes.

Emergency responders used 4-wheel all-terrain vehicles to reach the wreckage, which was in pieces.

Barnes said the experimental aircraft was made of fiberglass and apparently “just kind of came apart” in the crash.

The report says that the wreckage, which was sent to the National Transportation Safety Board Vehicle Recorders Laboratory in Washington, D.C., was substantial with the cockpit, canopy and nose crushed and instrument panel destroyed.

Investigators pointed out that visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan for the glider was filed the day of the crash.


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