Small plane crashes in Croatan Sound off airport

By on January 13, 2013

Crews search for missing pilot (Russ Lay).

A twin-engine plane went down Sunday in Croatan Sound off of the Dare County Regional Airport on Roanoke Island.

Witnesses say a woman was calling for help not far from shore a short time after the crash. She was rescued and taken by ambulance to Outer Banks Hospital, but her condition was not immediately available.

Rescue crews and law enforcement from numerous agencies across the Outer Banks participated in the search and rescue operation for the male pilot of the aircraft.

Dare County emergency management director Sandy Sanderson said the plane went down between 11 and 11:15 a.m., while a news release from the county places the time of the crash around 11:45 a.m.

Conditions at the airport at the time of the crash were hazy with rolling periods of fog, according to a pilot who landed a short time before the crash.

Braden Medlin and his son Shep provided the most detailed witness account among those interviewed.

“I heard the plane make one pass of the airport and then attempt a second approach,” Medlin said.

Google Maps/Sam Walker image

Medlin said the plane passed over the field on the second time, banked east and then turned west close to the William B. Umstead Bridge.

“I heard the pilot bank to the south and then west toward the landing strip,” Medlin said.

Medlin added that visibility on the ground was less than 30 feet and the plane sounded lower to the ground than usual when it approached over his residence.

As the plane approached the airfield, Medlin said he heard the plane throttle down and he assumed it was on its glide path.

As it got lower, he heard the plane throttle up dramatically and then a second later he heard a loud thud.

Another witness who declined to be identified said he also heard the plane throttle down, then up and also described a thud. At about the same time, his brother, who was working on the Manns Harbor side called him and reported the same information.

This witness heard the female calling for help and said he also heard male voices, but was unable to see them and was unsure if the voice was the missing pilot or rescue crews calling out to each other and the female survivor.

George Wood, vice chairman of the Dare County Airport Authority, said the crew in the airport’s control tower and other airport employees rescued the woman from the water and described them as “heroes”.

Debris pulled from the plane (Russ Lay).

Dive teams from Hatteras Island and other Dare agencies were dispatched.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter stayed on scene and worked through occasional thick banks of fog conducting a search pattern from the Umstead to Virginia Dare bridges and along the Roanoke Island and Manns Harbor shoreline.

Around 2:30 p.m. search boats began to concentrate on a spot more than 300 yards offshore from the old “Swimming Hole” and the CG helicopter also began to hover over the same area.

At 3:05 p.m. one search boat returned to shore with a piece of mangled debris that appeared to come from the dashboard.

Two dive teams worked the water but were restricted to about 20 to 30 minutes at a time due to low water temperatures.

They were unable to locate the missing pilot, before calling off their in-water search around 4:30 p.m. due to low visibility, and the overall search was suspended at sunset.

Sanderson said divers will resume their search Monday morning.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board have been notified of the crash.

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Audrey & Bill Atkinson

January 15, 2013 4:56 pm

To Michelle and family circle: So truly sorry to hear of the sudden homecall of your brother and a dear family friend hospitalized. Our prayers are will you all and if it is God’s will the friend may recover and be able to tell you more of what happened. Weather, however, can be treacherous. God be with you and yours during this tragic time and may you have His peace.

Charlie Snow

January 15, 2013 11:25 am

Michelle, my company is both online & on FB, Outer Banks Air Charters. I can be reached at the number, phone or text & the email, posted on those sites. You can also Google me as Charlie Snow Outer Banks.

michelle carlisle

January 15, 2013 2:15 am

Thanks so much Val and to all of you who have shown your support. @Charlie Snow… my father would like to speak with you. I am not quite sure how to reach you however you can contact him directly. i will check online to see if an easy way to get you his information. thanks so much again. my father has flown for 50+ years.
i just found your website and sent the phone number there to my dad.
thanks again.

michelle carlisle

January 15, 2013 2:13 am

Thanks so much Val and to all of you who have shown your support. @Charlie Snow… my father would like to speak with you. I am not quite sure how to reach you however you can contact him directly. i will check online to see if an easy way to get you his information. thanks so much again. my father has flown for 50+ years

Val Medlin

January 14, 2013 3:05 pm

Michelle, your family has been my heart and prayers since yesterday morning when we first heard your brother’s plane. Please know that there is an island full of people here who are wishing peace of heart and comfort for you and your parents and family. I am so sorry for the loss of your brother.

Charlie Snow

January 14, 2013 2:48 pm

I am so sorry for your loss. I was the aircraft that landed 10 mins. ahead of him. I sent him word via Center that visibility was lower to the west than the ASOS, & I included a ceiling report. I heard him acknowledge my PIREP. As the only expert eyewitness, I’ve made numerous reports to the authorities & the FAA, interview by investigator shortly. I was also first on scene with Officer Bender & made reports to FAA to report a potential accident. I will be glad to discuss it with the family in private. Since I landed at 11:30am & he was 10 minutes behind me, his first approach was about 11:40am, the accident about 11:45am. Charlie Snow

Michelle Carlisle

January 14, 2013 1:53 pm

E85 was a company that my brother and dad owned

Michelle Carlisle

January 14, 2013 1:52 pm

Yes, the divers recovered his body this morning. Visibility was 30 feet. He grew up with our dad flying and was an instrument rated licensed pilot. It is tragic and we are grateful that our family friend survived. Thanks for your eyewitness accounts. They gave my father comfort in creating a vision of what was going on in the sky and with the weather. Life is so short and precious. Please hug your loved ones, let go of the petty stuff and always let people know how much they mean to you

Wanchese guy

January 14, 2013 1:45 pm

Janie, its called patient privacy. It’s no ones business what her condition is other than hers. Coast Guard was called quickly not over an hour after RIFD was sent. Due to conditions it made it a slow process. Visibility was nearly nothing yesterday morning stalling the helicopter search. The latest report is the pilot is found now but still in the aircraft.

Native Son

January 14, 2013 1:30 pm

Recovered at/about 12:00 pm,was still inside the plane


January 14, 2013 12:23 pm

Sorry for your apparent loss Michelle. The owner of the plane (N6537C)is an LLC owned by a man named G. Carlisle which I assume is your brother.


January 14, 2013 11:25 am

Base-to-final stall? That may happen in poor visibility – pilot realizes, that he is out of his gliding path, so he turns toward the runway centerline abruptly, by using both yoke and (instinctively) inward pedal. But his approach speed is slow and throttle at the low power setting, so plane skids and stalls in seconds, having no altitude for recovery.
That’s just my speculation only, but still an important issue for pilots to keep in mind.

Michelle Carlisle

January 14, 2013 9:32 am

This is my brother. Huge thanks to all those involved and helping. I’m on my way down now as is our brother-in-law. Please keep the faith


January 14, 2013 8:28 am

Do we know the names of the man and woman aboard the plane. I haven’t seen them mentioned in any of the news releases. Were they from the area or travelling to the beach for vacation?


January 14, 2013 2:02 am

Who is the mystery woman that was rescued and why has it been so long since an update was posted regarding her condition?


January 14, 2013 1:39 am

I am sure that all the local agencies did their very best in the search and rescue efforts. I have not heard much in the way of whether Coast Guard divers were involved at all, especially as they allegedly arrived with a 25 foot rescue boat. In the end, the families of those on the plane, as well as the regulatory agencies are going to want to know every step of the way what was done in a concerted effort to locate them. Was side scan sonar utilized in an attempt to locate the pilot?


January 13, 2013 9:54 pm

A special thanks to the volunteer divers from station 50, Chicimicomico Banks VFD. As far as I know they are the only dive team we have locally. It takes true dedication to dive in a recovery mission and they are doing it for free. Hats off to all of our local volunteer agencies, you guys and gals do us a great service

January 13, 2013 9:34 pm

definitley was not a man calling from the left though it was a female voice.


January 13, 2013 8:12 pm

RIVFD called for the Coast Guard to respond BEFORE 12pm (just a few minutes after the call was dispatched and before any boats were even launched), so I’m not sure where this 1pm time came from. This can be confirmed with time recorded scanner communications.


January 13, 2013 8:03 pm

I was leaving aquarium and saw the plane flying low to the ground and commented that it must have been a difficult flight because of the dense fog. Several seconds later, we heard a loud thud before we reached our car in the parking lot. We we were in the aquarium about an hour and our tickets show we purchased them at 10:50am. I am more inclined to think crash occurred between 11:30am and 12:00pm.

January 13, 2013 7:57 pm

Plane flew very low over our house appx 11:35 heard aboom at 11:38, brother in law was at the swimming hole already and called a plane went down. At appx 11:45 heard two people yelling. Understood the woman straight in front of the swimming hole. Could not understand the one to the left. I was told it was people on shore trying to comfort the woman. Not sure though. Fog was very thick could not see very far at all.


January 13, 2013 6:20 pm

I congratulate those personnel in the tower who rescued the lady. But I am confused about something. Some media report the crash between 11 and 11:15 AM and others 12 PM and another at 1 PM. Which one is correct, because the Coast Guard, according to their official website, was not contacted about a search until 1 PM.


January 13, 2013 5:56 pm

i live right by the run way by the airport n i heard the crash and then i went outside n heard the lady crying for help n then i heard both of them screaming.

Kathleen Brehony

January 13, 2013 5:35 pm

Steve — Judy Waits was walking Iggy and was — as far as I know — the first to hear this woman screaming. She ran to Peg and Jeff Landreth’s (closer than to her house) and they called 911. I am praying that this woman’s injuries are not to severe and that they find the man.

Steve Andrus

January 13, 2013 5:07 pm

I live on the sound in Burnsside and I heard the crash and then then yelling. At first I could not understand what she was saying. It sounded like 2 people yelling. Then a group got verbal contact with her and could tell what she was saying, “Help” With verbal contact they told her to keep yelling “help” that help was coming. We heard the rescue boat on the way and told her to keep it up. She did.


January 13, 2013 4:43 pm

Someone on Burnside was calling 911 and helping to direct the rescue boats in closer to where the lady was screaming. It seems to have helped. They also reported hearing a man but never found him, and they still have not this evening.


January 13, 2013 2:47 pm

my husband and I live on Burnside rd and heard the crash. we got in car and rode to airport, area of sound. we arrived before rescue( they arrived right after us), did people that live in homes in that area not see or HEAR the plane that close . Sounds like the ladie actually was out of plane and hollaring for help?

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