March 31st, 2010
01:38 PM ET

1 dead in Virginia plane crash

One person died Tuesday when a small private plane crashed into a UPS freight terminal outside the Roanoke Regional Airport in Virginia, a hospital official confirmed Wednesday.

Two people were aboard the plane. A Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital spokesman said that Peter Sheeran died after the accident and that John Whitmer was listed in serious condition Tuesday. CNN affiliate WDBJ identified Sheeran as the pilot.

Jill Demko, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator, told reporters Wednesday that the pilot and passenger flew into Roanoke for a business meeting and headed back to Charlottesville, Virginia, about 1 p.m. in the plane, a Piper Malibu.

The pilot said he had a flight control problem and needed to go back to the airport. She said the plane struck wires, then the ground. The accident occurred about 1:10 p.m.

"There was a severe post-crash fire, so that does complicate our investigation," Demko said. "However, we have accounted for all of the flight control surfaces and all of the components of the aircraft. Those are at the accident scene. And the wreckage path itself is relatively confined - it's only about 100 yards."

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soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Chad

    Bill is obviously not a pilot or an aviation professional, or he would never had made a careless comment like that. A complex, high performance aircraft like the Piper Malibu has all kinds of rigging including cables, hinges, push-pull tubes, servos, trim tabs, etc. that could affect the flight controls. A preflight inspection is extremely important, but you can't possibly check all these systems. Many are hidden. That is what the annual condition inspection is for. Additionally, components fail. Something can appear to be absolutely fine but catastrophically fail due to 1000 different reasons beyond the control of the pilot.

    Let's reserve judgment until the NTSB releases its report.

    March 31, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Eric

    So that's what happened to my UPS package!

    March 31, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bob

    I am a pilot who has flown the same plane (Cessna 182) for over 800 hours. I still use the pre-flight checklist. I have a feeling this pilot did to. I landed my plane looking out the side window because a prop seal failed. It was thoroughly pre-flighted but i too could have suffered this same fate. Airplanes are complex and things inevitably do happen.

    March 31, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    What? no accusations that a Republican caused this? You are slacking CNN posters

    March 31, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TestPilot

    Wish the plane had an ejection seat

    July 9, 2010 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  6. Bella Smith

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    September 8, 2010 at 4:00 am | Report abuse |
  7. Gordon M. Callison

    As a survivor of an aircrash in 1958, let me say, lots of things can go wrong, even when the plane had a pre-flight inspection. Our twin engine transport crashed tail first, killing all but 5 of the 32 Air Force ROTC Cadets on board, but the worst thing is, the crash was never reported and..the AF got away with it in the greatest Air Force cover up in modern history.

    May 14, 2011 at 3:52 am | Report abuse |
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