Pilot Could See Airport Before East Haven Crash, Report Says

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EAST HAVEN — The pilot of a plane that flew upside down into two houses, killing four, had reported that he was able to see the airport two minutes before the crash, according to a preliminary report released Tuesday.

The report, released from the National Transportation Safety Board, is not the final word on the crash, said Peter Knudson, NTSB spokesman. Full reports average about a year to complete, he said.

According to the preliminary investigation, the pilot told a tower controller at the Tweed-New Haven Airport in New Haven at 11:19 a.m. Aug. 9 that he was headed for runway 20. The controller cleared him to land, the report states.

The pilot circled the airport, and while he did so, the controller asked if he “would be able maintain visual contact with the airport,” it states. The pilot answered, “622 is in visual contact now.”

At 11:20 a.m., the controller made a brief transmission, but nothing was heard from the pilot. The crash happened at 11:21 a.m.

A witness who is a student pilot was traveling east on I-95 when he saw the airplane at the end of a “right roll,” the report states. It was flying fast, upside down and nose first toward the ground, he told investigators.

Another witness who lives two houses away from the crash saw the plane descend with its right side down about 90 degrees, the report states.

At 11:26 a.m. that day, winds gusting from 12 knots to 19 knots were recorded. Visibility was 9 miles, the report states.

The pilot, Bill Henningsgaard, 54, of Medina, Wash., and his passenger, his 17-year-old son Maxwell, died.

On the ground, Sade Brantley, 13, and Madisyn Mitchell, 1, died in their home at 64 Charter Oak Ave.

By Christine Dempsey, Hartford Courant

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