The 1965 Piper PA-32 that crashed Nov. 12 in Barren County, killing all four occupants, descended from about 7,000 feet to 2,800 feet in 30 seconds before losing radar contact in the area of the crash site.
A National Transportation Safety Board preliminary accident report released Wednesday showed the aircraft “was destroyed during an in-flight break-up and collision with trees and terrain following a loss of control” in a remote area near Fountain Run.
The pilot/owner and three passengers were returning from a hunting trip and departed Union City, Tenn., at 1:03 p.m. Nov. 12 bound for Somerset, according to the report.
Kentucky State Police identified the deceased as Scott T. Foster, 41, and his son, Noah Foster, 15, both of Science Hill, and Kyle P. Stewart, 41, and Quinton “Doug” Whitaker, 40, both of Somerset.
The airplane was traveling east at about 5,500 feet for about 30 minutes before the radar showed a slight northeasterly turn. At 1:56 p.m. the radar shows the aircraft climbed to between 7,000 and 7,500 feet and made a series of left and right turns, according to the NTSB report.
“Shortly thereafter, the radar track depicted an erratic series of left, right, and 180-degree turns before a sharp right turn. From that point, the radar target descended from about 7,000 feet to 2,800 feet over a 30-second span, before radar contact was lost in the area of the accident site,” the report read.
A witness described seeing the aircraft go “in a nosedive” before losing sight of it behind trees, according to the report.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land. He did not have an instrument rating. While the report does not specifically name Scott Foster as the pilot, it does make reference to the “pilot/owner.”
The aircraft is registered to Scott and Amy Foster, according to the Federal Aviation Administration aircraft registry website. Amy Foster was not on board the plane when it crashed.
The pilot had logged 251 hours of flight experience with 246 of those hours in a plane with the same make and model as the crashed aircraft, according to the report. The plane’s most recent annual inspection was Oct. 10.
“A preliminary review of high-resolution weather data by an NTSB meteorologist suggested a solid cloud layer between 2,000 feet and 8,000 feet mean sea level (msl) in the area surrounding the accident site,” the report read. “The ceiling at (the airport in Somerset) at the estimated time of arrival was 600 feet overcast.
“The pilot did not file a flight plan nor obtain a weather briefing from Lockheed Flight Services or through the Direct User Access Terminal Service prior to departure,” according to the report.
Brian Rayner, senior air safety investigator with the NTSB, traveled to the site Nov. 13. He and a team of experts who examined the site found most of the major components of the aircraft at the scene, according to the report.
“The initial impact point was in treetops approximately 60 feet high, and the main wreckage came to rest wedged in between tree trunks. The cockpit, cabin area, and empennage were destroyed by impact,” according to the report.
Scott Foster was a well-known attorney in Somerset. Stewart was a dentist. Whitaker, also an attorney, was the Somerset Police Department chaplain.