NTSB Releases Details of Former Google Engineer Plane Crash near Eclipse Festival
Category : Air Crash
NTSB Releases Details of Former Google Engineer’s Plane Crash near Eclipse Festival
By Ofonime Essien
The Former Google Engineer who died last month after crashing his small plane in Oregon was planning to camp there to view the total solar eclipse, was following strict flying instructions at the small, crowded airport, according to preliminary findings from federal investigators.
Mark Rich, 58, of Menlo Park, who has worked as an engineer for Google and Airbus, died when his home-built Rich Wheeler Express CT hit the wall of a canyon on his final approach on the afternoon of Aug. 19, a mile from the Madras Municipal Airport, according to the National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report.
Rich had planned to camp at the airport and participate in Oregon Solarfest, a festival surrounding the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 and where the sun would fully be blocked out, according to the NTSB. He submitted his airport reservation request and payment to the airport on July 22, indicating he would arrive Aug. 19 and depart after the eclipse.
The NTSB released its preliminary report on the Aug 19 crash in Oregon that killed Mark Rich.
At the time of the crash, a Notice to Airmen, or NOTAM, was issued, instructing pilots to follow certain instructions on how to fly into the small airport due to the increased traffic.
The Statesman Journal newspaper reported that about 400 planes had been flying into that airport in advance of Monday’s total solar eclipse. A Non-Federal Contract Tower was brought in to help facilitate the increased traffic, the NTSB reported.
Each pilot was required to arrive at their assigned reservation time.
According to the controller working the tower during the crash, Rich checked in as he was flying over Cove Palisades State Park as he was supposed to, and then his final approach was modified. Rich reported he was on a “3-mile left base to runway 34,” according to the NTSB.
“The controller cleared him to land and observed a plume of smoke shortly thereafter,” according to the report.
Witnesses told investigators they saw the plane turn and dive “near-vertical” to the slope of a canyon about one nautical mile from the runway. The cabin and fuselage was mostly destroyed when emergency crews arrived, according to the report.
The report is preliminary and no causes of the crash have been determined.