APEX, N.C. (WNCN) – Thursday morning, National Transportation Safety Board investigators out of Ashburn, Virginia examined the scene of a fatal Apex plane crash that happened Wednesday afternoon.
The pilot, Cary resident Bruce Jordan Jr., 80, died after authorities say he tried to land at Cox Field Airport and clipped several trees, overturned, and then was trapped inside the cockpit of the Pitts S2E aircraft.
Jordan was the only person on board.
NTSB Air Safety Investigator Heidi Kemner told CBS North Carolina’s Beairshelle Edmé that the team will, “pick up the airplane pieces and try to do a wreckage reconstruction,” as part of the initial investigation.
CBS North Carolina spoke with nearby residents and fellow pilots, some of whom knew Jordan.
“It’s just sad. It’s something all pilots know can happen and so you just fly by the numbers. Every time you fly, you check out your airplane and while you’re flying you’re aware of where you are, your altitude and your speed and something like this is just a fluke. Nobody knows what happened right at the very end,” said Mike McCann, of Apex, who was in the same pilot club as Jordan.
McCann noted that Jordan likely had around 5,000 hours of flight time and had finished building his small aircraft around 2009.
“This guy is so experienced that it just seems impossible, but it’s not,” he said. “For me, it’s just — it would be nice to know the last few minutes what happened, what caused it, what was going through his mind.”
Federal investigators will collect evidence and examine ground scars, fuel samples, and wreckage to find those answers.
“When we go back to the office back near Washington, D.C. we focus on the bigger picture — if there’s any safety issues we’ll look at fixing them, but overall right now documenting the scene, looking at the man, the machine and the environment,” Kemner explained.
A preliminary report will be released in 10 days, followed by a factual report to be completed within 18 months.
According to authorities, the plane will be moved from the Apex crash site either later today or Friday.