NTSB releases initial report on Down East plane crash that killed eight

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The National Transportation Safety Board has released its initial report on the plane crash off the Core Banks that killed eight people including four teenagers.

The Pilatus PC-12 went down three miles east of Drum Inlet in Cape Lookout National Seashore on the afternoon of February 13 in about 60 feet of water. The Core Banks is a series of islands south of the Outer Banks that stretches from Ocracoke Inlet to Cape Lookout.

Killed in the crash were pilot Ernest “Teen” Rawls, 67, of Greenville; his adult son Jeffrey Rawls, 28, of Greenville who carried a student pilot license; Stephanie Fulcher, 42, of Sea Level; Jonathan “Kole” McInnis, 15, of Sea Level; Douglas “Hunter” Parks, 45, of Sea Level; Noah Styron, 15, of Cedar Island; Michael “Daily” Shepard, 15, of Atlantic; and Jacob “Jake” Taylor, 16, of Atlantic.

Their bodies were recovered in the days following the crash, along with the flight data recorder and other key equipment.

The group was flying from Englehard to Beaufort after participating in a youth day waterfowl hunt at Lake Mattamuskeet a day earlier.

Among the details in the NTSB report, the pilot was instructed by a flight controller to initially fly out over the ocean rather than taking a direct path over the Pamlico Sound due to military aircraft operating in restricted airspace.

Airplane flight track (yellow) overlayed with the heading to the initial approach fix (orange) and the destination extended runway centerline (blue). [courtesy NTSB]
The report said the plane began quickly gaining altitude and the flight controller received no response from the pilot just before the aircraft disappeared from radar at 2:04 p.m.

“Throughout the communication with air traffic control, there were no distress calls or a declaration of emergency from the airplane,” the report states.

The investigation of the crash continues. A final report on the crash could take up to two years before it is completed and released.

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Sam Walker was news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3 from August 2011 to March 2022.