Swamp death crash plane lost control and nosedived

The Cessna wreckage in the Florida swamp
The Cessna wreckage in the Florida swamp
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A PLANE which crashed killing a young pilot and her brother lost control before nosediving into a Florida swamp, an investigation has found.

Student pilot Carly Beattie, 21, from Penicuik, was flying the Cessna 152 when it plunged into a wooded area near Blue Cypress Lake in June 2011, killing her and her 24-year-old brother, Daniel.

Details of the probe, published two days before the first anniversary of the crash, indicate the small plane turned 180 degrees right before the last radar reading which showed it making a 360-
degree turn.

A distress signal had been sent from the aircraft just before it nosedived.

The propeller and engine assembly were found buried three feet below the surface of the ground while the plane’s windshield was said to be “destroyed” and the instrument panel “fragmented”.

Early reports from the US’s National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) suggested that the plane’s rudder horn, a part attached to the tail which controls direction, would be a focus of investigations. A nut plate was found to have been fixed incorrectly.

The fuller examination also revealed that Ms Beattie, who had been in the US as part of her degree course in air transport with commercial pilot training at Buckinghamshire New University, and her brother died from “blunt force trauma”.

Ms Beattie, a former pupil at St George’s School for Girls in Edinburgh, had held a private pilot certificate issued one month before the crash and her pilot’s logbook showed she had 165 flight hours, of which 117 were as a pilot in command of the same make and model as the Cessna 152.

It is understood her parents and her brother had been staying with her on Merritt Island, around 50 miles north of the crash site which consisted of dense woodland and swamp.

With no road access, firefighters and police were forced to trek to the wreckage on foot and the bodies were carried from the plane back through the swamp by hand. It is understood the 18-strong squad braved snakes and deep mud to wade to the crash site.

Police located the fallen plane using a mobile phone signal from one of the siblings.

A talented athlete, Ms Beattie hoped to compete in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Her coach, Bill Walker, from City of Edinburgh Athletics Club, previously spoke of his “devastation”.

“It had always been Carly’s dream to be a pilot, even when she was at school. She was very committed in everything she did. Carly always wanted to do more training rather than less,” he told the News after her death. “Her dad built her a gym at their home so she could keep in shape.”

Mr Walker had suggested plans to hold a tribute race in her memory that could be incorporated into an existing running meet.