The two Tennessee men who died in a Monday afternoon plane crash in Russell County were headed to an air show in Florida when their plane went down.
Robert M. Lloyd, 63, of Franklin, Tenn., and Marion Hamilton Cartwright, Jr., 64, of Old Hickory, Tenn., were pronounced dead from massive blunt force trauma injuries at the scene of the crash off of Old Seale Road near Russell County High School at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Russell County Coroner Arthur Sumbry Jr. said.
Brian Rayner, a senior transportation official with the National Transportation Safety Board, said Lloyd and Cartwright departed Lebanon, Tenn., Monday at about 11 a.m. EDT, and were headed to an air show for experimental planes in Lakeland, Fla. They were scheduled to refuel their plane, a homebuilt RV-10 aircraft, in Eufaula, Ala.
Cartwright, the owner and pilot of the plane, listed 52 hours of total flight experience when he registered with the Federal Aviation Administration, Rayner said.
Lloyd was also a private pilot.
The plane was last located about 7 seven nautical miles northwest of Fort Benning. Rayner said the aircraft started making "rapid divergent altitude changes — climbs and descents," before it disappeared from the radar. It appears to have gone down at about 1 p.m. EDT.
The Russell County Sheriff's Office received reports of a missing plane from the Peachtree City office of the FAA at about 12:45 p.m. EDT Monday and began searching the area in a helicopter, Sheriff Tommy Boswell said.
The crash was located at about 6 p.m. EDT Monday on private property belonging to the Flowers family, he said. Officials with the sheriff's office, the NTSB and the FAA began investigating early Tuesday morning, using four-wheelers to get to the heavily wooded and swampy crash site off of Ala.bama 431 near Big Uchee Creek.
"It's extremely rough country," Boswell said.
Rayner said the plane, which struck trees about 80 feet above the ground, was badly fragmented, with parts spread over about 500 feet. The body of the plane was located about 270 feet from the initial crash site.
The cockpit was leaning against a tree, Rayner said, and all of the accessories, wiring and spark plugs were stripped from the engine due to the impact. The plane's engine block was also fractured.
Rayner said there was no evidence of fire, but the crash site did have a strong odor of fuel.
The bodies of Lloyd and Cartwright have been sent to Alabama Bureau of Investigation's crime lab in Montgomery for autopsies. The cause of A reason for the crash hasn't yet been determined.
There were no witnesses to the crash. A weather study will be done and the voice communication with the flight crew will also be analyzed. Rayner said a preliminary report on the crash will be available in about a week.