ORLEANS – The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report of the Oct. 31 fatal accident on a single-engine ocean 2 miles east of Nauset Beach, Orleans.
The pilot, Roger Mills, 67, of Woburn, flew alone and was killed in the crash when his single-engine Piper PA-236 dived into the Atlantic Ocean around 6 p.m. 19. His body has not been found.
The wreckage was found Nov. 3 in about 80 feet of water, 2.5 miles east of Orleans. Mills, a retired director of a medical equipment company, had 300 hours of flying experience, according to the NTSB report. He did not have an instrument rating to land or take off when the weather or other conditions limited visibility.
But that Halloween night, visibility was 10 miles, according to the report, even though the moon had not yet risen and the wind was weak with just over 6 mph. Mills had received his medical certificate to fly in November 2019 and should have had it renewed this month.
Although Mills did not need an instrument rating to fly that night, the Federal Aviation Administration warns against flying at night, especially over water.
“Night flying requires pilots to be aware of and operate within their capabilities and limitations,” the FAA wrote in its “Airplane Flying Handbook.”
The aircraft, built in 1979, was last inspected in January this year.
The report says the plane took off at noon that day in Seymour, Indiana, and arrived at Reading Regional Airport just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at 1 p.m. 16:23, where Mills refueled for the last part of his flight to Chatham Municipal Airport. For most of its flight, Mills flew at 8,000 feet.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s tracking data as he approached Chatham, Mills began his descent to the airport, and at 6 p.m. 18.44 he flew in 1,000 feet. But Mills flew over the airport and headed northeast across the Atlantic before making a 270-degree turn and heading back toward Chatham.
Within minutes, the plane had made a descending right turn that dropped rapidly, losing 400 feet within seconds before the tracking data abruptly ended, according to the NTSB report.
Follow Doug Fraser on Twitter: @dougfrasercct
This article originally appeared on the Cape Cod Times: NTSB publishes preliminary report on fatal Halloween night plane crash
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