The crew of a propeller plane carrying UPS cargo made no distress call before the small aircraft landed hard enough to gouge the runway and break into pieces on Friday, a federal investigator said.
Both the pilot and co-pilot were killed as their plane went off the edge of a steep, wooded hillside. There was no fire, but responders had to cut their way through thick brush and trees from above and below to reach their bodies.
"It's difficult terrain to negotiate," said Mike Plante, a spokesman at Yeager airport, which serves West Virginia's capital.
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The Air Cargo Carriers plane had departed from Louisville, Kentucky, at 5:43 a.m. and arrived at the Charleston, West Virginia, airport at 6:51 a.m., Plante said.
National Transportation Safety Board lead investigator Bill English said the sky was overcast, with about 10 miles of visibility under the cloud cover, which began at about 500 feet above the ground.
The airport will remain closed until Saturday at least, since the gouge marks may need repair, English said. United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines canceled upcoming flights in and out.
Joining the NTSB probe is the FAA and the Short Brothers Co. of Northern Ireland, which makes the Short 330, a small, twin-engine turboprop.