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Preliminary NTSB report: Plane's engine 'constantly smooth' before crash in Lantana

2 men died on March 5 at Palm Beach County airport
Chopper 5 view of small plane crash at Palm Beach County Park Airport in Lantana, March 6, 2023
Posted at 9:54 PM, Mar 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-29 13:04:09-04

LANTANA, Fla. — The engine of the small plane approaching the runway at the Palm Beach County Park Airport was "constantly smooth" before it crashed earlier this month, two witnesses told the National Transportation Safety Board in a preliminary report.

John Holland and Michael Marshall died in the crash at 9:25 p.m. March 5.

The witnesses, who are both pilots, were friends of the victims and were waiting at the ramp near the runway.

They said the engine of the Diamond DA-40, N804ER sounded normal leading up to the crash. They both shot videos of the approach.

One witness reported when the plane was about 800 feet from the approach of runway 10, it started to "go around." It had descended no lower than 20 to 30 feet above ground level and did not touch down. He reported that the engine was “constantly smooth” as the airplane flew over runway 10. He noted the airplane climbed no higher than between 200 and 250 feet, then banked to the right, stalled and rolled inverted.

Another witness, a student pilot, reported that at the departure end of the runway, the plane made a "sudden 45-degree right bank." The nose leveled off, then entered a steep turn of 60 degrees. When the nose of the airplane was pointed toward them, the right-wing stalled and the airplane became inverted.

The plane impacted airport property.

The airplane was being flown from Henderson City-County Airport in Kentucky to the operator's facility at Palm Beach County Park Airport. It had a fuel stop in Williston, Fla.