Investigators release new details on Northern NY plane crash that killed 2

Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 4:45 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday released new information about a plane crash in New York’s North Country that killed two men.

It happened Sunday in the town of North Elba near the Lake Placid Airport.

The NTSB on Tuesday revealed the nature of that flight, what investigators are looking for and when a preliminary report will be released.

The two men on that flight have been identified as former NFL tight end Russ Francis, 70, of Hampton, New Hampshire, and Air Force veteran Richard McSpadden, 63, of Frederick, Maryland.

NTSB Investigator Todd Gunther said on Tuesday that the two men were flying on Sunday for a photo shoot of their Cessna 177 aircraft. He said an initial plane that was taking photos took off before Francis and McSpadden’s aircraft.

Gunther said once off the ground, the 177 aircraft was working its way to the first plane before apparently losing engine power. Francis and McSpadden said they had a problem and were going to return to the airport. Upon their descent, Gunther said the plane hit a burm at the end of the runway and fell 30 feet into a ravine.

He said the NTSB will wrap up its investigation Friday.

“Once we return back to our offices, in approximately 7-10 days, we will produce a preliminary report and that preliminary report will have the facts, conditions and circumstances as we know them up to this point. And since it is preliminary, it is subject to change,” Gunther said.

Gunther said investigators are looking at a variety of factors, including maintenance records, the weather in the area and other structural components. He said it will likely be another 18 months before a final report is released by the NTSB. He also said the Lake Placid runway will remain closed until they wrap up their investigation.

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