Report released on deadly Christmas Eve plane crash in Bartow

Image 1 of 5

The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report on a plane crash that killed five people the morning of Christmas Eve, 2017.

A thick blanket of fog covered the Bartow Municipal Airport. John Shannon, a pilot for more than 50 years, was taking off when his plane went down.

His two daughters, his son-in-law, and a friend of the family were with him.

“We were stunned by the accident,” Mike Zidziunas, a friend of Shannon’s told FOX 13. “John was very methodical, so it was very shocking to all of us. We were pretty close to him.”

But the NTSB indicates that Shannon may have taken more risks than others thought.

The report says there was a problem with his autopilot, his plane was 105 pounds heavier than it should have been at takeoff, and he was a year overdue to have his instrumentation checked out.

“You are flying blind if your instruments aren't doing the job for you,” commented Greg Gibson, an experienced pilot, after reviewing the report. “Obviously, if they are not calibrated accurately, that could result in something bad happening.”

A final report on the cause of the crash is expected within the next few weeks.