NTSB releases prelim report on plane crash near Wells

Tyler, TX (KYTX) -- We're learning more about what caused a plane crash near Wells last Monday, killing the pilot.

"Weather accounts for a large number of fatalities," Phillip Rispin, Assistant Chief Flight Instructor at LeTourneau University, said.

Pilots say it's their second biggest worry, behind maneuvering the aircraft. And according to the NTSB preliminary report released today, weather did play a role in the crash that killed John Thomas Steeper, 64, from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

Steeper was the pilot and only person on board. It's believed while in the air, the plane sustained impact and fire damage all over.

"Thunderstorms are the biggest issue we encounter here," Rispin said.

The report doesn't say what elements Steeper faced, but flight instructors with LeTourneau University make sure students understand the importance of planning ahead.

"We have really good forecasting capabilities now through the various federal agencies. And the pilot should be very aware of what is coming, long before they ever get in the air," Rispin said.

He says they teach students to avoid thunderstorms by 20 miles. In the case near Wells, witnesses reported hearing an explosion and then seeing a fireball come through the clouds onto the ground.


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