The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report of its findings regarding the July 6 plane crash on The Ole Miss Golf Course that killed the pilot, 18-year-old Starkville native Lake Little.
The report cites an operator at University-Oxford Airport (UOX) who heard Little indicate that she was landing on runway nine. The operator said that Little’s voice sounded “panicked” and that she was not finishing her sentences.
“The pilot did not respond to the helicopter in her area asking for her location,” the report read.
The airplane did not touch down on the runway and began to climb at a “steep” angle. After the plane headed toward the golf course, an unnamed witness saw it “go straight down behind the trees.”
The witness also said that they did not hear any engine anomalies.
A second unnamed witness at the golf course said that the plane seemed to be “struggling” and appeared very close to stalling before it crashed.
The report said that bystanders and first responders tried to remove Little from the cockpit but couldn’t because of the seatbelt that she was wearing. After firefighters put out a ground fire caused by the crash, Little was removed from the cockpit and airlifted to a Memphis hospital where she was pronounced dead.
After an on-scene investigation of the crash, NTSB investigator Ed Malinowski said he discovered that one of the cylinders in the plane’s engine had material under its exhaust valve, and oil was found in the engine’s crankcase when it was removed.
The cylinder is being shipped to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for more testing.
The NTSB has also asked the Office of the Lafayette County Coroner to perform an autopsy on the pilot and have toxicological samples taken.
Little left the Golden Triangle Regional Airport in Columbus in a 172R airplane around 2:00 p.m. and later crashed on The Ole Miss Golf Course around 3:15 p.m.
Little, a student pilot, had recently joined the national guard and planned to be a pilot for FedEx. According to information from the Civil Air Patrol, Little had accumulated 69.4 hours of total flight time and 32.7 hours of flight time in the last 90 days.
Malinowski said at a press conference on July 8 that a full report from the NTSB could take six months to a year.