Federal Aviation Administration staffers say it will be four to eight weeks before they complete their investigation of Thursday’s crash of a small-engine airplane into a home in the Broadmoor subdivision in Columbus.
Investigators began interviewing witnesses who saw the home-built aircraft piloted by Gerald H. Clayton,
81, of Columbus, skim along the treeline and slam into the home. He and his passenger, Dennis E. King, 60, of Columbus, are both at Wishard Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis recovering from burns and other injuries.
The plane went down in the densely populated neighborhood about a mile from Columbus Municipal Airport off Central Avenue and Rocky Ford Road.
“We are still in the early part of the investigation,” said Lt. Matt Myers, spokesman for the Columbus Police Department, which is working with the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board.
FAA investigators arrived Thursday afternoon and had interviewed more than 10 witnesses by Friday afternoon, Myers said.
Investigators plan to interview Clayton and King as soon as they are able.
Among those interviewed by FAA officials was Hiroko Nakao, who was in the home where the airplane crashed.
She told them what she heard before fleeing the house and watching the plane and house erupt in flames.
She escaped unharmed, and she and her husband, Tadashi Nakao, are staying in a hotel while they find permanent housing.
Columbus police officers were continuing to secure the crash site Friday, which was surrounded by yellow police tape.
Myers said FAA workers likely would remove the plane wreckage and transfer it to an off-site location for further examination either Friday evening or sometime over the weekend.
Other steps involve examining airplane records and listening to conversations with air traffic control.
The FAA is acting as the lead investigation agency, with the Columbus Police Department assisting. Detective Chris Couch is the lead investigator for CPD.
Police encouraged people who do not live in the neighborhood to not drive by to see the home since having more vehicles in the area only adds to traffic congestion during the investigation.