NTSB: Doomed plane broke up while in flight


TYRINGHAM, Mass. (AP) – The small plane from Maine that crashed in western Massachusetts this month, killing both men on board, broke apart in flight during severe weather, according to a preliminary federal report.

The plane was en route from Wiscasset, Maine, to Hudson, N.Y.. on July 9 when it crashed in Tyringham. Pilot Gregg Hartley, 54, of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and passenger Timothy Ladd, 59, of Hallowell, Maine, both died.

The National Transportation Safety Board in its report released on Tuesday said Hartley contacted air traffic controllers at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut minutes before he flew into a thunderstorm.

Hartley told air traffic control that conditions were “severe” just before contact was lost shortly after 8 a.m. The crash was reported on the ground just minutes later about 12 miles south of where contact was lost.

The investigator in the case said a final “probable cause” for the crash is yet to be determined.

What caused the plane to break up in flight is yet to be determined.

It depends on the condition of the plane, pilot experience, weather conditions and other factors, investigator Eric Ellayne said.

“But planes fly through storms all the time, so we have to look at all the data,” he said.

The Piper PA-32 was registered to Hartley Marine Services, the dry bulk transport and tug company that Hartley owned in Boothbay Harbor. The men were on a business flight.