Pilot Identified in Single Engine Tahoe Plane Crash

By: Daniel Chanin Email
By: Daniel Chanin Email

Authorities have identified the victim and pilot of the plane crash as Casey William Daggett,41,of Davis, CA. An autopsy has been planned to help investigators understand more about the cause of the crash.

An investigation continues near the South Lake Tahoe Airport where the pilot of a single engine airplane crashed and died shortly after taking off on Sunday afternoon.

The crash happened in an area notorious for its strong winds and authorities are looking at the possibility that those conditions played a major role in the crash, considering how quickly the plane went down.

Just 800 feet east of the South Lake Tahoe Airport lies the wreckage from a Cessna 150. The male pilot, described as an out-of-towner from California, was killed immediately after the plane hit the ground nose first.

"Within seconds I'd say of takeoff," said Lt. Les Lovell with the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office. "(A) small aircraft. He never even cleared the end of the runway."

Flight instructor Bill Schroeder has flown in South Lake for more than 40 years. He says the strong winds often create problems for pilots who are not familiar with the area.

"Where a lot of these pilots fly, they have winds that are steady across flat lands," said Schroeder. "Here, we have mountains, which create updrafts and downdrafts as the wind crosses these ridge tops. So, they have to know what these winds are doing."

The El Dorado County Sheriff's office says those winds are a major focus in their investigation. The plane took off at about one o'clock, just as the breeze was picking up.

"Sometimes people panic a little bit and they'll stall their aircraft," said Lt. Lovell. "They'll bring the nose up a little bit trying to gain that altitude and that will cause a stall and then the aircraft will turn and dive."

Authorities will continue to question witnesses as they try to find out if this pilot suffered a similar fate.

The staff closed down the airport immediately after the crash and re-opened it about an hour and a half later.

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