LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The minutes leading up to an airplane falling from the sky are being looked at by federal investigators.
Robert Katz has been flying for four decades. He’s a commercial pilot and certified flight instructor.
“The weather conditions around Little Rock were severe and extremely dangerous,” Katz said.
As the plane took off around the noon hour, the airport recorded a 46-mile-per-hour wind gust and a change in the wind direction.
Katz said the storm would have been a battle for any plane, including commercial.
“There was a front passing right over the airport at the time and that would have put any aircraft in a compromised position,” he said.
While the storm rolled through with a punch, there was prior notice.
The National Weather Service issued a Special Weather Statement around 11:30 a.m., 30 minutes prior to the plane’s departure.
Meteorologists warned that 50-mile-per-hour wind gusts were possible.
“A tower controller would have indications in the tower from wind sensors around the airport, multiple wind sensors,” Katz said.
Katz said the FAA control tower is responsible for relaying weather information to pilots prior to a plane’s departure.
He believes that audio will shed some answers on many questions.
“It is going to be very revealing as to what this pilot was informed of in the moments prior to him taking the runway to depart,” Katz said.
Airport records reveal no commercial planes took off for more than 30 minutes around the time of the rain and wind. It’s unclear if it was intentional or not.
It’s also unclear if any other private planes took off.