Early investigation into fatal Topeka plane crash shows no mechanical issues

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The National Traffic Safety Board released on Tuesday their preliminary investigation into a Topeka plane crash that killed two men.

Post-accident examination of the airplane by NTSB revealed no mechanical problems that would have prohibited normal operation of the plane.

The crash was reported around 8:30 p.m. on July 31, near Philip Billard Municipal Airport in Topeka. A student pilot identified as Dr. William Leeds, 61 of Topeka and the flight instructor identified as James Bergman, 55, of Leawood were killed in the crash.

NTSB said the airplane was operated by Bergman, who was the registered owner of the airplane.

According to the report, Leeds had been receiving flight instruction from Bergman, toward the addition of a multi-engine land airplane rating onto his private pilot certificate, which had a single engine landing and instrument rating. The accident flight was a practice multi-engine check ride for the student pilot’s examination that was scheduled the following day.
A witness stated that as the airplane passed the airport terminal building, it was very low in altitude and not climbing very fast. The airplane turned east and into the left-hand airport traffic pattern. The witness did not see the airplane crash.

The airplane’s wing flaps and landing gear were retracted from the crash site. NTSB said the airplane exhibited damage consistent with a low-speed impact in a left wing-low and shallow pitch attitude.

NTSB said this information is preliminary and subject to change. Any changes will be made with the final report has been completed.

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