MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - "The pilot's voice sounded panicked." That's what a witness told investigators according to the preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board on the plane crash that killed 18-year-old Lake Little in Oxford, Mississippi on July 6th. The report was released on Wednesday, July 17th.
The NTSB report says Little took off in a Cessna 172R from Columbus, Mississippi around 2 p.m., flying 100 miles north to the University-Oxford Airport. As she approached UOX around 3:15 p.m., an airport operator told investigators her "voice sounded panicked and she did not finish her sentences."
A witness saw Little approach Runway 9 at UOX. There was a tailwind, which makes landing more difficult. The plane started a steep climb away from the airport headed toward the Ole Miss golf course. The witness did NOT hear anything unusual with the engines.
Another witness at the golf course said the plane appeared to be struggling to maintain airspeed, was nose up and close to stalling. He thought the pilot was trying to land on the 17th fairway when the plane turned left, hit the ground and slid into nearby trees. Good samaritans and first responders tried to get Little out of the cockpit, but couldn't get her seatbelt and harness undone. The plane caught fire soon after.
The Starkville teenager, suffering from serious burns, was airlifted to the hospital where she later died. She was a student pilot with about 70 hours flight time, 30 of those hours in a Cessna 172R. The NTSB’s final report is expected to be complete in 12 to 24 months.