By Chelle Delaney: QCS Staff
On Friday morning, an aircraft recovery company removed the wreckage of the single-engine plane that crashed killing its pilot on Wednesday at the annual air show at the Tucumcari airport.
Guy “Doc” Baldwin, 60, a physician, stunt pilot and aviation columnist, died in the plane as he was coming out of a square loop maneuver before a crowd of about 1,000 attending the Tucumari Rotary’s 14th annual event, police officials said.
An inspector for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) started an investigation of the crash site on Thursday and was at the scene again on Friday to oversee the moving and transport of the wreckage for storage and later investigation.
Baldwin’s German Extra 300L will be stored in Greeley, Colo., said Jennifer Kaiser, an air safety investigator for the NTSB’s office in Denver.
Investigations focus on the environment of the crash, the pilot and the plane, said Kaiser.
For example, weather records for that day will be checked. “I understand it was windy that day, and we’ll look to see if that could have played a role,” Kaiser said.
Kaiser also said she verified the plane’s control competency. All the plane’s controls, its ailerons, elevators and rudder, were functioning properly prior to impact, she said.
The plane’s propeller also appeared to be functioning properly based on its fragments and splintering, Kaiser said.
While the plane looks like it caught fire on the ground, she said the brownish color of the wreckage was caused from engine oil and dirt that had caked onto the plane.
“It doesn’t show signs of being on fire post impact,” she said.
Patches of the ground were burned indicating there was a flash fire ignited briefly at the time of the crash, Kaiser said.
The pilot’s body has been taken to Albuquerque where it is to be autopsied and where a Federal Aviation Toxicology test will be conducted, Kaiser said. These procedures are routine after a crash to learn if a pilot has suffered from a medical condition and to learn if there was the presence of drugs or chemicals released by any of the plane’s systems inside the canopy.
Baldwin’s flying records, pilot’s certificates, ratings and other aviation papers will be reviewed as well, she said.
The air show’s announcer following the accident requested any video tapes of the accident. Kaiser said those had been reviewed by the Tucumcari Police Department and two were found to have the accident sequence. Those tapes will be sent to the NTSB’s lab in Washington, D.C. where they will be reviewed frame-by-frame.
There was a camera filming from inside Baldwin’s plane that Kaiser said she
understood was being shot for promotional purposes. It was not immediately known if that recording is viewable; it also will be sent to the lab, she said.
Witness statements and their contact information were also collected by Tucumcari police and those will become part of the investigation and further interviewing may be necessary, Kaiser said.
It will take six to eight months for the investigation to be complete, she said. Those findings will be submitted to the NTSB in Washington, D.C., which will then determine the probable cause of the crash.