Federal accident report sheds light on Lake Murray plane crash

·2 min read
Courtesy of Caleb Krick

A federal investigation is shedding more light on how a small airplane went down in Lake Murray earlier this month.

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its report into the Jan. 13 incident where a small plane went down in the lake near the Gilbert area of Lexington County, surprising lakeside residents and sending first responders scrambling.

The NTSB launched the investigation to determine what caused the Cirrus SR22 to deploy an emergency parachute and make a water landing near the Lake Murray shoreline. Such investigations are standard after an air crash.

The pilot, who made it out of the plane uninjured, reported flying to Charleston shortly after 1 p.m. when warning signals began going off in the cockpit. The plane was 5,500 feet off the ground when the pilot reported his oil pressure gauge fell to zero and the engine began to sound like it was over-speeding, according to the investigation report.

The pilot reduced the throttle and began looking for a place to land over the lake. As the Cirrus neared the shoreline, the pilot deployed the plane’s emergency parachute system at 2,000 feet and slowly brought the plane down into the water. He reported that the plane floated for a few minutes before the wind started to push it away from the shoreline near Taylors Cove, so the pilot and a passenger dove off the plane’s wing and swam to shore.

The pilot said he had done a pre-flight inspection of the aircraft without finding anything out of the ordinary and had added a quart of oil before takeoff, investigators reported. A later inspection by the Federal Aviation Administration noted “substantial damage” to the fuselage and the plane’s left elevator. The inspector also found a hole in the top of the engine case.

The wreckage was recovered from Lake Murray and retained by the NTSB for further examination.

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