MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- The Hendrick Motorsports plane that crashed last month and killed all 10 aboard missed the approach to the airport and then
failed to immediately climb before crashing into a mountain, according to a preliminary report Friday.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the proper procedure after a missed approach at Blue Ridge Regional Airport in Spencer called for the
aircraft to maneuver right and climb to 2,600 feet.
Instead, the report said, the Beech 200 King Air descended to 1,800 feet before crashing into the southeast slope of Bull Mountain at an altitude of
The plane crashed Oct. 24 en route from Concord, N.C., to Martinsville Speedway. The son, brother and two nieces of owner Rick Hendrick, patriarch of
one of NASCAR's top syndicates, was killed. A pilot for NASCAR star Tony Stewart also was among the dead as was the team's general manager and chief
Both pilots were experienced, the report said. It does not draw a conclusion on the cause of the crash but does note the plane's global positioning
system was not certified for instrument-only flight and the plane did not have a ground proximity warning system. Witnesses reported the mountain was
obscured by clouds and fog.
Pilots of at least 20 other planes, most carrying sponsors and race fans, decided it was too dangerous to land at Blue Ridge Airport at the time and
instead touched down at Danville Regional Airport, where landing in bad weather is easier.
After the plane descended to 1,800 feet, the controller advised the crew to climb to 4,400 feet, the report said. There were no further radio
transmissions from the crew.
The plane initially hit some trees before crashing to the ground. The cockpit was destroyed by the impact, and the cockpit and cabin areas were
consumed by post-crash fire, the report said.
One witness about 3 to 4 miles southeast of the mountain reported seeing a plane fly past about 60 to 70 feet above the ground, according to the
"When you miss something in bad weather ... the safe thing to do is to get to an altitude where you're not going to run into anything," former NTSB
board member John Goglia said.
Hendrick Motorsports employs 460 workers at its North Carolina compound, which includes race shops and a museum and team store.