Pilot Dies After C'ville-Bound Plane Crashes in Roanoke

By: Carlos Vergara; Jessica Jaglois; Liz Palka; AP Email
By: Carlos Vergara; Jessica Jaglois; Liz Palka; AP Email

March 30, 2010


A federal investigator says the pilot of a single-engine plane that crashed at Roanoke Regional Airport had reported a control problem before clipping wires and hitting a UPS Freight building.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Jill Demko says pilot Peter Sheeran, 59, was trying to return to the airport when the 1985 Piper PA-46 went down Tuesday and caught fire.

Demko heads a team from the NTSB, Federal Aviation Administration, Piper Aircraft and Teledyne Continental Motors that arrived Wednesday.

“At about 1 o'clock, the aircraft took of from runway 2-4,” Demko said. “Shortly after it rotated, the pilot reported that he had a flight control problem and needed to return to the airport.”

Sheeran died Tuesday evening at Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Sheeran was an architect from Charlottesville with the Aviation Development Group Inc. and owned the aircraft that crashed. Sheeran was also an owner of two hangars at Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport, where the plane flew out from Wednesday morning.

Sheeran's wife told CBS19 that her husband was a "wonderful man" who was loved. Barbara Hutchinson, executive director of CHO, said the entire aviation community in Charlottesville will mourn Sheeran's death.

Passenger John Whitmer, general manager of Landmark Aviation in Charlottesville, was listed in serious condition at Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

Hutchinson said Whitmer sustained many cuts and bruises from the crash but is expected to be OK. In a Twitter update, Hutchinson said Whitmer would be released from Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital Wednesday evening.

Demko says the men had flown to Roanoke from Charlottesville earlier Tuesday and were returning to Landmark Aviation when the crash occurred.


Previous Story:

A small plane carrying two people has crashed into the side of a UPS freight facility near the Roanoke Regional Airport.

Virginia State Police Sgt. Bob Carpentieri says the plane struck the freight terminal just before 1 p.m. Tuesday. Carpentieri did not know the condition of the people inside the plane, but said at least two people were transported to the hospital.

Ted Lopatkiewicz with the National Transportation Safety Board says the plane was a 1985 Piper PA-46.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the fixed wing single-engine plane is registered to Aviation Development Group Inc. of Charlottesville. There was no telephone listing for the company in the Charlottesville area.

A plane belonging to Aviation Development Group took off from Charlottesville Tuesday morning and landed in Roanoke at 9:30 a.m.

It was not immediately clear if the plane was taking off or trying to land.

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