Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

December 6, 2012

NTSB examining plane crash evidence

Brent Brown
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Two members of the National Transportation Safety Board appeared at a press conference at the Decatur County Extension Office Thursday morning, offering details in their investigation of Sunday’s fatal plane crash.

NTSB investigator Stuart Bothwell and deputy regional director Dan Baker stated that completion of the field investigation revealed no faults in any of the plane’s equipment.

Bothwell said the aircraft’s landing gear was in the down position, fuel was present in the engine, and the propeller, which separated from the craft during the crash, showed signs of power being present on the plane during its descent.

Investigators removed the fusilage and recovered all aircraft components from the crash site earlier this week, housing all within a building at the Decatur County fairgrounds.

Bothwell said the emphasis of the NTSB’s investigation is to look at “the man, the machine and the environment,” meaning the investigation — which will now move to Washington, D.C. — will look into the actions of the pilot, the plane itself and the weather conditions involved in the crash.

Greensburg residents Don and Barb Horan and their friends Steve and Denise Butz were killed when a plane owned and piloted by Don Horan crashed into a field Sunday evening.

Baker said the plane “impacted in a plowed field and skidded approximately 250 to 300 feet,” coming to rest in a wooded area approximately a mile to a mile and a half from the Greensburg airport.

Bothwell said Horan had flown a total of 398 hours, 52 of which were in a craft of the same type (a Piper PA-46) flown by Horan Sunday. He also had flown 29 hours (both real and under simulated conditions) in weather conditions similar to those present in southeastern Indiana Sunday night. Rain and fog covered portions of Decatur County at the time Horan was expected to land.

The crash victims were returning from a weekend vacation in Destin, Fla. Six others, with whom the Horan and Butz families spent the vacation, landed safely in Columbus approximately 20 minutes prior to the disappearance of Horan’s craft.

Baker said the pilot of the second plane executed a “missed approach” at the Greensburg Municipal Airport and diverted to Columbus.

The two planes were not in communication with one another, though both were equipped with radio equipment capable of doing so, Baker stated.

Baker said investigators had not discovered “any anomalies in the aircraft or engine” and will now focus their investigation primarily on the actions of Horan and the inclement weather he faced Sunday night.

The investigators also said they intend to speak with two more witnesses. Another witness told NTSB officials he had seen a “low flying” plane Sunday evening, in the vicinity of the crash.

Bothwell offered condolences to the family and friends of the victims and said he wished to “acknowledge the overwhelming support of the community,” specifically city officials and the many responders from various fire and police entities who gave assistance at the scene.

A memorial mass for all four victims was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Friday in the Greensburg Community High School gymnasium.



Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056