ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (FOX 13) - The National Transportation Safety Board hopes the cockpit voice recorder of a plane that crashed and killed 10 people in Texas this weekend will shed additional light on the cause of the Sunday morning crash.
In a press conference Monday afternoon, NTSB officials said there may be some background noise on the recorder that will give them a better idea of what was going on with the airplane.
“The cockpit voice recorder, and it's being downloaded right now in the DC laboratory of the NTSB, we don't know what's on it, but what it does is it'll capture external communications on the aircraft between the crew and Air Traffic Control. Of particular interest to us is the conversation between the pilot and the co-pilot,” said NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg.
The medical examiner confirmed Sunday that 10 people were on board when the twin-engine Beechcraft BE-350 King Air crashed into a hangar and started a fire at the Addison Municipal Airport.
Monday morning, John Paul II High School in Plano, Texas sent a letter to families informing them that two students, their mother, and stepfather were all killed in the crash.
The school identified them as Alice and Dylan Maritato and Brian and Ornella Ellard.
Alice would have graduated John Paul II in 2022, and her younger brother, Dylan would've graduated All Saints Catholic Middle School in 2020. The email informed parents that All Saints will hold a mass and rosary for the family and other victims Wednesday.
The Ellard family has ties to the St. Petersburg area. Family friends told FOX 13 News Ornella, Brian and their children were headed to the Gulf Coast for the Fourth of July holiday. Public records indicate the family has a home in St. Pete Beach.
Several people nearby witnessed the plane going down and saw the crash as it happened.
“I’ve never seen anything so tragic, I mean, it was very surreal to watch an airplane crash,” David Snell, said.
Snell was getting ready to fly from Addison Airport with a friend Sunday morning, when they heard a plane taking off that didn’t sound quite right.
“It looked like it was clearly reduced power. I didn’t know if it was on purpose or not, but then, when the plane started to veer to the left and you could tell it couldn’t climb. My friend and I looked at each other and we’re like, ‘Oh my God. They’re going to crash,’” Snell recalled.
Other witnesses at the airport also reported seeing the plane having issues during takeoff.
“He got onto the runway, went down the runway, started taking off. He got to about 200 feet, and I saw him starting to lose power and his altitude, and then I see him just roll over and came straight down right into the building,” Peter Drake said.
Within seconds, the plane crashed into a hangar.
Cell phone video from witnesses showed heavy smoke billowing from the building as firefighters worked to put out the flames.
“I was in shock, I was really in shock. You see this stuff on videos and YouTube, but you can’t believe you’re actually seeing it in real life happening. It was insane. It was crazy,” Drake added.
“It all happened over the course of about 10 seconds, and it went from watching an airplane trying to climb and fly, to a huge fireball with debris everywhere. It was really awful,” Snell said.
The crash happened near an Addison fire station, so firefighters were able to get there quickly, but the FAA says the aircraft was destroyed in the crash.
“I’ve flown for 33 years, I’ve heard of crashes and stuff like that, I’ve never witnessed one with a bigger airplane,” Snell said. “That was really a horrific thing to see because somebody’s life, lives, family’s lives were forever changed, it’s awful.
The National Transportation Safety Board will continue their investigation. They said the pilots were cleared for take-off, we are not aware of any further communications between the crew and air traffic control.