Investigators have released their preliminary report on a plane that disappeared offshore of South Carolina.
The small Piper PA-31 plane took off October 27 from the Andrews airport in Georgetown County on a flight to the Bahamas. Five people were aboard. The National Transportation Safety Board report did not list any speculations about what happened, but noted the pilot appeared to run into problems about 95 miles southeast of Charleston and suddenly descended rapidly.
According to the report, the pilot sent a garbled transmission indicating he would divert to Charleston. After several requests to repeat from air traffic controllers, the pilot eventually responded, “We’re descending.” The report states the plane sharply turned left 15 seconds later the and increased its descent. The pilot’s last transmission was “emergency, emergency, five-five-five papa mike.”
The Coast Guard was not able to find any wreckage after a 3,000 square-mile search.
NTSB investigators said there were no severe weather incidents at the time and the plane had been inspected the previous month.
While there has not been any official announcement about those aboard, local media have identified two passengers as South Carolina residents. 58-year-old James “Jamie” Mitchum lived in St. Stephen and owned Mitchum’s Construction. 34-year-old Joseph Albritton was a sports fishing charter captain from Charleston.